Mercury is a substance that is particularly toxic when released into the environment. All forms of mercury can have adverse, and disastrous, effects on human health, which is why I believe the public should be made aware of mercury's hazardous properties, and be educated to make informed decisions when eating predatory fish and using mercury related products.
What is mercury?Mercury, scientific symbol Hg, is a metallic element also known as "quicksilver". Elemental mercury is a shiny, silvery liquid at room temperature; it is rarely found in its metallic form in nature, but rather as inorganic or organic compounds.
Mercury is mined in its inorganic state, as mercuric sulphide (the ore cinnabar). Inorganic mercury can also be called mercury salts, and includes mercuric oxide and mercuric chloride; organic mercury however, forms when mercury combines with carbon. Also known as organomercurials, the compounds dimethylmercury, phenylmercury, ethylmercury and methylmercury are all a part of this group.
(Green Facts "1.1")What is mercury used for?Mercury and its compounds have been used for centuries in the making of paint, vermillion, and in treatment for syphilis. (The Canadian Encyclopaedia "Uses").
Today, mercury is used in various industrial applications. For example, mercury is used to separate gold from other rocks in many small gold mining operations; it is a component in the manufacturing of chlor-alkali batteries, and is also found in electrical switches that operate convenience lights under the hoods of motor vehicles.
Mercury is also used in the production of many consumer products, such as non-digital thermometers and thermostats, fluorescent lamps, paint fungicides, dental amalgams, and medical equipment. (The Canadian Encyclopaedia "Uses").
How does it enter the environment?Natural-Low levels of mercury can be found in everything in the environment, but particularity in hot spots in the earth's crust, which are areas associated with volcanic activity. The concentrated...