The Dangers of Mercury Powder

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mercury powder is the finely ground solid form of the poisonous metal element mercury (Hg). It is used in preparation of pressed and bonded sputtering targets for Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) and Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD). It also is useful for applications in which high surface areas are required. American Elements offers both spray dry and non-spray dry high purity mercury oxide powder with the smallest possible average grain size for optimal performance in these applications.

People have been trying to make the blue liquid mercury (also called quicksilver) work miracles for centuries, ranging from the ruler of the Qin Dynasty to Rush Limbaugh. Then, as now, some people were convinced that it was the key to eternal life.

The most dangerous effect of inhaled metallic mercury vapor is brain damage, which occurs because the heavy, silvery metal binds to tissues in the body and blocks oxygen flow. It also causes heart irregularities and lung damage, and can cause death in severe cases.

Children who use teething powders containing mercury can experience the same problems, with abnormal heart rhythms and vomiting. Even adults who have worked with mercury and are exposed at work can experience respiratory failure.

If a thermometer containing mercury breaks on a counter or uncarpeted floor, it can cause toxic vapors to be released. Remove children and pets from the area and turn off ducted heating and cooling systems. Wear gloves and a mask to avoid inhaling the fumes. Don’t try to wipe or blot the spill. The beads of metallic mercury are not absorbent, and the attempt to wipe or blot will only spread them around. Instead, carefully roll up or scoop up the beads of mercury on paper and put them in a plastic bag or sealed glass container.