Mercury is a precious metal that is unfortunately being drained from the Earth. Discover here the reasons why this natural resource is so valuable, its risks and what its functionality is.
What is Mercury?
Mercury is the only liquid metal at normal temperatures, and it is a chemical element with the symbol Hg and atomic number 80. It is a silvery-white metal, slightly yellow in its original color. Mercury has a high melting point and low boiling point, and is toxic by inhalation, ingestion, or skin contact.
Most metals are solid at room temperature, but mercury is a liquid. This is because the attractive forces between particles in mercury are extremely weak. These forces are called van der Waals forces. Van der Waals forces are responsible for holding liquids together, but they are too weak to keep mercury solidified. Instead, the mercury particles are held together only by the attractive forces between them and the heat of the metal. When mercury is cooled, these forces are not enough to keep it liquid, and it solidifies.
For this reason, when old thermometers used to measure temperatures broke, it was possible to see a liquid in the form of small balls coming out. However, it is important to remember that it is highly toxic and must be handled with gloves and cannot be disposed of in ordinary trash.
Why is Mercury the Only Liquid Metal at Normal Temperatures?
Mercury is the only liquid metal at normal temperatures because it has a low vaporization energy. Vaporization energy is the energy required to change a liquid into a vapour. The lower the vaporization energy, the easier it is for the liquid to turn into vapour.
Mercury has one of the lowest vaporization energies among metals, its vaporization energy being only 0.085 kcal/mol. This means that to turn 1 mole (6.02 x 10²³) of mercury into vapour, we only need to supply 0.085 kcal of energy. Compare this with the energy of vaporization of iron, which is 508 kcal/mol, and you can see why mercury is the only liquid metal at normal temperatures.
What are the Risks of Exposure to Mercury?
Mercury is a heavy metal that can cause serious health problems if you are exposed to it. Mercury is present in some products we use on a daily basis, such as thermometers, lamps and mirrors. If you've broken a thermometer or burned out a fluorescent light, watch out for signs of mercury exposure:
* Nausea and vomiting
* Breathing problems
* Behavior changes
If you suspect that you are being exposed to mercury, immediately seek medical attention for appropriate treatment.
How to Reduce the Risk of Mercury Exposure?
Mercury is a chemical element with the symbol Hg and atomic number 80. It is a silvery-white, slightly watery metal and the only metal that is in a liquid state at room temperature.
Mercury exposure can cause health damage, including neurological damage. The metal is also an environmental pollutant due to its toxicity. Exposure to mercury can occur through contaminated air, water or soil, or by eating contaminated fish.
The main sources of exposure to mercury are:
– Burning fossil fuels such as coal and oil;
– Cement production;
– Garbage burning;
– Mining and processing of metals, such as gold and copper;
– Production of glass and ceramics;
– Use of products that contain mercury, such as thermometers, fluorescent lamps and batteries.
To reduce the risk of exposure to mercury, people can:
– Limit or avoid the consumption of contaminated fish;
– Do not burn fossil fuels;
– Replacing mercury-containing products with safer alternatives;
– Properly treat and dispose of mercury-containing products.
Mercury is the only liquid metal at normal temperatures, and this makes it an extremely versatile material. It can be used in barometers, thermometers, manometers and other measuring instruments, and is an important component of many chemical products. Despite its many uses, mercury is also extremely toxic, and its use must always be monitored to avoid environmental and health damage.
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