Mercury (Hg)

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Mercury 80Hg200.59

Known to ancient civilisations.

[Named after the planet Mercury; Latin, hydrargyrum = liquid silver]

French: mercure
German: Quecksilber
Italian: mercurio
Spanish: mercurio

Description: Mercury is a liquid, silvery metal. It is stable in air and with water, and is unreactive towards acids (except concentrated HNO3) and alkalis. Mercury is used in the electrolysis cell for the manufacture of chlorine and sodium hydroxide by means of the electrolysis of brine, but is being phased out in favour of alternatives. Mercury is used in street lights, fungicides, electrical apparatus, etc.


Further Materials properties


Crystal structure:

(cell dimensions/pm), space group, 
α-Hg rhombohedral (a=299.25, α=70° 44.6'), R-3m
β-Hg tetragonal (a=399.5, c=282.5), I4/mmm
α -> high pressure

X-ray diffractions mass absorption coefficients: CuKa 216 (µ/r) / cm2g-1
MoKa 117 (µ/r) / cm2g-1
Neutron scattering length: 1.266 b/10-12 cm
Thermal neutron capture cross-section: 374 sa / barns
Density: 13 546 kg/m-3 [293 K]
Melting point: -38,87°C / 234.28°K
Boiling point: 356.58°C / 629.73°K
Molar volume: 14.81 cm3
Thermal conductivity: 8.34 [300 K] W m-1K-1
Coefficient of linear thermal expansion: 18.1 x 10-5 K-1
Electrical resistivity: 94.1 x 10-8 [273 K] Ωm
Mass magnetic susceptibility: -2.095 x 10-9(l) kg-1m3
Radi: Hg2+ 112Hg+ 127; atomic 160; covalent 144
Electronegativity: 2.00 (Pauling); 1.44 (Allred); 4.91 eV (absolute)
Effective nuclear charge: 4.35 (Slater); 11.15 (Clementi); 16.22 (Froese-Fischer)
Number of Isotopes (incl. nuclear isomers): 37
Isotope mass range: 178-> 206



Biological data


Biological role: None, although it is present in everything we eat.
Toxic intake: (metal vapour, human exposure) = 44 mg m-3 (8 hours)
Lethal intake: LC50 (metal vapour, inhalation, rabbit) = 29 mg m-3 (30 hours)
Hazards: Mercury vapour is poisonous by inhalation and should not exceed 0.1 mg m-3 in air. All mercury compounds are toxic, methyl mercury extremely so. Mercury affects the central nervous system and is teratogenic.
Level in humans
Blood: 0.0078 mg dm-3
Bone: 0.45 ppm
Liver: 0.018 - 3.7 ppm
Muscle: 0.02 - 0.7 ppm
Daily dietary intake: 0.004 - 0.02 mg 
Total mass of element in average
[70 kg] person:

6 mg 

Geological data


MineralFormulaDensityHardnessCrystal apperance
Cinnabar  HgS 8.09  2 - 2.5  rhom. microcrystalline, scarlet mass

Chief ores: cinnabar
World production: 8400 tonnes/year
Main mining areas: Spain, Italy, Yugoslavia
Reserves: 590 000 tonnes
Specimen: available as liquid of varying grades of purity of up to 99.9999%. Warning!


Sun: < 125 (relative to H = 1 x 1012)
Earth's crust: 0.05 ppm
Atlantic surface: 4.9 x 10-7 ppm
Atlantic deep: 4.9 x 10-7 ppm
Pacific surface: 3.3 x 10-7 ppm
Pacific deep: 3.3 x 10-7 ppm
Residence time: n.a.
Classification: scavenged
Oxidation state: II

  Source: Emsley, J. (1998) The Elements (3rd Edition)

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Overview of elements with access to our shop

1 18
2 13 14 15 16 17
Li Be B C
Na Mg 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Al Si P S
K Ca Sc Ti V Cr Mn Fe Co Ni Cu Zn Ga Ge As Se
Rb Sr Y Zr Nb Mo
Ru Rh Pd Ag Cd In Sn Sb Te I
Cs Ba La Hf Ta W Re Os Ir Pt Au Hg Tl Pb Bi
Ce Pr Nd
Sm Eu Gd Tb Dy Ho Er Tm Yb Lu

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