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
- Dental Amalgam Fillings (Food and Drug Administration)
- Health Effects of Exposures to Mercury (Environmental Protection Agency) Also in Spanish
- Storing, Transporting and Disposing of Mercury in Your Home (Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Solid Waste)
- Thimerosal FAQs (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- Mercury (National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences)
- 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)
Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Article: Impact of emission reductions and meteorology changes on atmospheric mercury concentrations...
- Article: Are concentrations of pollutants in sharks, rays and skates (Elasmobranchii) a...
- Article: A synthesis of patterns of environmental mercury inputs, exposure and effects...
- Mercury -- see more articles
- Mercury poisoning -- see more articles
Find an Expert
- Mercury Report -- Children's Exposure to Elemental Mercury (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry)
- Mercury and Pregnancy (March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation)
- Mercuric chloride poisoning (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish
- Mercuric oxide poisoning (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish
- Mercury (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish
- Mercury Quick Facts: Health Effects of Mercury Exposure (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry) - PDF Also in Spanish
- Methylmercury poisoning (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish