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Mercury, or Quicksilver, Metallic chemical element, chemical symbol Hg, atomic number 80. Mercury is the only elemental metal that is liquid at ordinary temperatures, with a freezing point of −38 °F (−39 °C) and a boiling point of 674 °F (356.9 °C). Silvery white, dense, toxic (see mercury poisoning), and a good conductor of electricity, mercury is occasionally found free in nature but usually occurs as the red sulfide ore, cinnabar (HgS). It has many uses in dental and industrial amalgams, as a catalyst, in electrical and measuring apparatus and instruments (e.g., thermometers), as the cathode in electrolytic cells, in mercury-vapour lamps, and as a coolant and neutron absorber in nuclear power plants. Many of mercury’s compounds, in which it has valence 1 or 2, are pigments, pesticides, and medicinals. It is a dangerous pollutant because it concentrates in animal tissues in increasing amounts up the food chain.
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Mercury Industrial Uses
Mercury is frequently used as a biocide, preservative, disinfectant, electrical conductor, temperature and pressure gauge, disinfectant, and reaction catalyst. In Western countries, the use of mercury in industrial processes has almost disappeared. In modern times, exposure, and therefore toxicity is limited mainly to dentistry;
thermometer, barometer and mercury arc equipment manufacture; pigment, fungicide, insecticide and dry cell battery manufacture. Within industry there are all possible types of mercury products installed in distribution boxes, electrical surrounding equipment, boiler rooms, sumps, machinery, measuring instruments, etc.
The following provides a brief summary of mercury use in specific industrial products and sources. Mercury compounds have in the past been used as diuretics, anti-infective, laxatives, eye and skin