Why We Need and Fear Mercury, the Liquid Metal

Mercury, which usually looks like a thick silvery fluid, is the only steel that’s liquid at space temperature level. Its elemental icon is Hg, which comes from the Greek word “hydrargyrum,” meaning “liquid silver.” As a matter of fact, it’s also called quicksilver.

We make use of mercury in a wide range of items, from thermometers and also measures to batteries and also chemicals. Yet mercury is exceptionally dangerous, and also we can absorb it by touch, breathing, or usage. It builds up in the body with each exposure and is really hard to get rid of. If you obtain too much in you, you can deal with mercury poisoning, which is both undesirable and also possibly fatal.

That’s why you need to beware not to break a mercury thermostat or a portable fluorescent lightbulb. It’s likewise why people are worried regarding mercury in industrial waste and chemicals streaming right into rivers and also oceans as well as being absorbed by fish … which are after that eaten by people.

However where does mercury come from, and also exactly how do we get it?

Most mercury is extracted from a mineral called cinnabar, which can include up to 86 percent mercury. Individuals have been removing mercury from cinnabar considering that at the very least Roman times. Capillaries of the red-to-brownish mineral are typically located in rocks such as slate, limestone, shale, and sandstone. A rarer kind of cinnabar appears as striking deep red crystals installed in various other rocks.

Exactly how do we get the mercury out? Cinnabar is crushed right into little items as well as heated up in a kiln. When the temperature level hits 675 degrees Fahrenheit, the fluid mercury ends up being a vapor. As that vapor cools, the mercury condenses right into a pure liquid that can be collected.

Cinnabar is mined all around the world, including Spain, Austria, Hungary, as well as Serbia. The United States has a variety of cinnabar mines, including numerous in The golden state, Texas, and Nevada.

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