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Author Topic: where would i find mercury?  (Read 6416 times)

paul.fr

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where would i find mercury?
« on: 30/08/2007 14:14:09 »
we mine for coal and other substances, but where do we get mercury from? is there some underground lake of the stuff?


 

Offline Karen W.

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where would i find mercury?
« Reply #1 on: 30/08/2007 14:43:48 »


That was a good Question. I had no Idea where it came from and it was interesting reading up on it! Thanks Paul!


http://www.hepn.com/tri/mercury.htm
Mercury

What is mercury?

Mercury is a silver-colored metal that is liquid at room temperature. Small amounts of mercury are naturally present in soil and water. Levels in soil average less than one part mercury for every million parts soil (ppm).

Approximately 43% of mercury releases can be attributed to natural sources such as volcanoes, the ocean, and soils. Human activities account for 57% of mercury releases on the earth. Most manmade mercury releases come from mining, coal and oil combustion, and burning of waste from cities and hospitals. Mercury releases from human activities peaked in the 1980s and are continuing to decline.

Where does mercury come from?

Mercury enters the environment through natural processes and as a result of human activity. Mercury is released through:

    * weathering of rocks containing mercury;
    * fossil fuel (coal and oil) combustion;
    * mining of gold and ores that contain mercury;
    * cement production;
    * volcanic eruptions;
    * manufacturing; and
    * burning of municipal and medical waste;
    * water treatment facilities.

Do electric utilities release mercury into the environment?

Yes. EPA estimates that electric utilities release roughly 1% of all mercury releases to the air, water, and soil in the U.S. Utilities release a total of 51 tons of mercury every year, compared to about 800 tons released through natural weathering processes. Utilities are one major source of airborne mercury releases.

How could I be exposed to mercury?

Since mercury occurs naturally in the environment, everyone is exposed to very low background levels that are not harmful to human health. The body naturally eliminates mercury, so background exposure is not considered harmful.

Main sources of mercury exposure are:

    * food containing mercury (particularly fish and shellfish);
    * mining production sites;
    * recycling facilities, municipal or medical incinerators;
    * coal-fired power plants;
    * latex paint containing mercury;
    * some dental and medical treatments (including tooth fillings);
    * drinking water; and
    * consumer products containing mercury (thermometers, batteries, etc.).

It is very rare for humans to inhale high concentrations of mercury vapor or to swallow large amounts of mercury, but such occurrences can be fatal. Breathing metallic mercury vapor can cause chest pains, cough, reduced lung capacity, or high blood pressure. Swallowing mercury can cause mercury-induced toxicity which has a detrimental effect on kidneys
« Last Edit: 30/08/2007 14:49:03 by Karen W. »
 

Offline eric l

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where would i find mercury?
« Reply #2 on: 30/08/2007 15:43:02 »
Although mercury may be found a the native metal, this is extremely rare.  The main resources are three ores :
Cinnabar is by far the most common, and was already known in Roman times as a source for mercury.  Marco Polo also describes how mercury is won by roasting cinnabar.
 

Offline Karen W.

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where would i find mercury?
« Reply #3 on: 30/08/2007 16:10:05 »
Yes that is also true as I did read it earlier in another article about mercury! I find it all interesting since I had no idea where it came from!
I would be interested in knowing how it is extracted for use in todays modern uses! You know kind of a process of how they isolate it from natural materials as well as other things?
 

Offline eric l

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where would i find mercury?
« Reply #4 on: 30/08/2007 16:27:57 »
I have no detailed description of the process here - at least not in English, and translating what I have would take too much time.  But here are some interesting links :

I admit I have not read all of them in detail, but the first one seems very interesting.
Apparently, recycling mercury is becoming more important than mining it.
« Last Edit: 30/08/2007 16:29:30 by eric l »
 

Offline Karen W.

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where would i find mercury?
« Reply #5 on: 30/08/2007 16:59:46 »
That is interesting. Thanks for the links Eric.. Have a great weekend!
 

Offline Bored chemist

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where would i find mercury?
« Reply #6 on: 30/08/2007 20:15:15 »
It's in orbit round the sun at about 30 or 40 million miles I think.. Oh! sorry, that mercury erm,... what he said.

Controlled oxidation of cinnabar by roasting in air will give mercury. Mercury can also be recovered from its compounds by roasting with soda.
 

Offline Bass

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where would i find mercury?
« Reply #7 on: 31/08/2007 04:55:04 »
Did you know that the Lewis and Clark expedition regularly took mercury pills to ward off ailments?  It's no wonder Merriweather Lewis went insane after the expedition.  One of the ways that historians found their old campsights was by using a mercury sniffer to find the campsight latrines.  There is a campsight just a few hundred feet from my house (Travelers Rest), and they confirmed that it was indeed the L&C campsight by finding high soil mercury in a couple of spots.
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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where would i find mercury?
« Reply #8 on: 31/08/2007 07:27:58 »
There's a nice article about the Lewis/Clark expedition at National Geographic...
http://www.nationalgeographic.com/lewisandclark/
 

Offline JimBob

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where would i find mercury?
« Reply #9 on: 01/09/2007 00:59:33 »
Terlingua, Texas

There is a lot in the cemetery as well as the mine. Mercury poisoning killed most of the workers, who were usually felons. The mine in the desert was hot and the cinnabar would produce mercury fumes that permeated everything in the mine, including the people.   

It is now a tourist trap.

 

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where would i find mercury?
« Reply #9 on: 01/09/2007 00:59:33 »

 

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