About Mercury

Physical properties

Mercury possesses unique properties that are not seen in other metals. It is the only metallic element that appears in liquid form (silvery-white) at standard temperature and pressure conditions. Its specific gravity, at 13.6, is heavier than iron and hence, an iron bolt placed in metallic mercury looks like a piece of wood floating in water.

General properties

Liquid silvery-white metal (The only metal that is liquid at room temperature)


Standard atomic weight


Specific gravity

13.6 (20℃)

Melting point


Boiling point



A variety of symptoms of poisoning, ranging from acute to chronic, appear when mercury enters the human body. There are several paths for mercury to be absorbed into the body system: through direct inhalation of vapor, direct contact with the skin (it is possible that mercury vapor can also be absorbed through the skin) and through oral ingestion of food and beverage.

Main examples of toxicity

Acute poisoning

Abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, gingivitis, pneumonia, renal failure, cardiovascular failure

Chronic poisoning

Gingivitis, hand tremor, headache, insomnia, fatigue, weakness, loss of appetite, gingival bleeding, kidney damage, hearing loss, visual field constriction

Coming into contact with mercury compounds may cause dermatitis and the mercury may be absorbed into the body through such contact.


The unique properties attributed to mercury- such as having a relatively heavy specific gravity, being liquid at room temperature and having the capacity to easily make metal alloys- has prompted it to be used in many different aspects of our lives.


Previous uses

Smelting, plating, amalgam, pesticide, explosives, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing caustic soda, dry-cell batteries

Present day uses

Fluorescent lamps, LCD backlight, mercury lamps, mercury batteries, silver-oxide button cell batteries, zinc air button cell batteries, mercury switches, mercury relays, measuring devices, vaccine preservative (thiomersal), gas detector tubes, research reagent, pigment

Latest uses

Experimental metal