Mercury is an element that is found in air, water and soil. It has several forms. Metallic mercury is a shiny, silver-white, odorless liquid. If heated, it is a colorless, odorless gas. It also combines with other elements to form powders or crystals. Mercury is in many products. Metallic mercury is used in glass thermometers, silver dental fillings, and button batteries. Mercury salts may be used in skin creams and ointments. It's also used in many industries.
Mercury in the air settles into water. It can pass through the food chain and build up in fish, shellfish, and animals that eat fish. The nervous system is sensitive to all forms of mercury. Exposure to high levels can damage the brain and kidneys. Pregnant women can pass the mercury in their bodies to their babies.
It is important to protect your family from mercury exposure:
- Carefully handle and dispose of products that contain mercury
- Limit your consumption of fish with higher levels of mercury
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
- Basic Information about Mercury (Environmental Protection Agency) Also in Spanish
- Mercury (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry) Also in Spanish
- Mercury (Environmental Protection Agency)
- Mercury and Your Health (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry)
- Tox Town (National Library of Medicine) Also in Spanish
- FDA: Anti-Aging, Skin-Lightening Products May Contain Mercury (08/04/2016, HealthDay)
- About Dental Amalgam Fillings (Food and Drug Administration)
- Frequently Asked Questions about Thimerosal (Ethylmercury) (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- Health Effects of Exposures to Mercury (Environmental Protection Agency)
- Storing, Transporting and Disposing of Mercury in Your Home (Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Solid Waste)
- Mercury Poisoning Linked to Skin Products (Food and Drug Administration) Also in Spanish
- Should I Be Concerned about Eating Fish and Shellfish? (Environmental Protection Agency)
Statistics and Research
- TOXMAP (National Library of Medicine) - Create maps showing locations of toxic chemical releases
Journal ArticlesReferences and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Article: Factors associated with total mercury concentrations in maternal blood, cord...
- Article: Factors Affecting Elevated Arsenic and Methyl Mercury Concentrations in Small...
- Article: Higher levels of mercury in brain are not linked to...
- Mercury -- see more articles
- Mercury poisoning -- see more articles
Find an Expert
- Mercury (Environmental Health Student Portal) (National Library of Medicine)
- Mercury Report-Children's exposure to elemental mercury