You cannot drown in mercury since it is extremely dense (13593 kilograms per cubic meter, almost 13.6 times denser than water) and you will float above it once a considerable amount is present. Mercury is also hesitant to moisten most surfaces, which means it won't enter the lungs by capillary action like water would. The only way you could possibly drown in mercury is if it was present in some form of vapor that could fill your lungs.
In fact, it's so dense that no one can survive in pure liquid form. You need molecules of gas dissolved in the liquid for life to exist. Even then, there is no guarantee since many substances are toxic in large quantities. For example, sodium from a salt shaker could kill you if it enters your body through your skin.
People have been known to survive being immersed in mercury for several hours. It's thought that they asphyxiate because there isn't enough oxygen in the mercury to support normal breathing. A similar thing might happen if you were put into cold water and not removed after you had fallen asleep in it.
The average adult male human body weighs about 60 kg or 132 pounds. If you weighed more than this amount, you would exceed the maximum load limit for immersion in liquid mercury.
Because of the density of Mercury, you cannot drown. Mercury has a density of 13 grams per cubic centimeter, but humans have an average density of roughly 1.1 grams per cubic centimeter due to our high water content. Because of the tremendous density of mercury, even a 100 pound cube of lead will float in a mercury tank!
The only way you could possibly drown in mercury is if the container broke open while you were submerged in it. Even then, you would just need to get out of the liquid version of death and call for help.
Here are some other things you should know about mercury:
It is toxic to humans, animals, bacteria, and most other organisms. It can cause brain damage, respiratory problems, cancer, reproductive issues, and more. Too much mercury in your body can be fatal.
It is very harmful to the environment too. When mercury gets into our environment, it tends to stick to animal proteins such as fur seals, whales, and fish. These animals tend to be eaten by humans who believe they are getting valuable products from them but actually are consuming a deadly substance that ends up in their bodies. Then, these people feel sick when exposed to mercury because it has entered their system through food or drink. Scientists say that there is probably no safe level of exposure for mercury since none of us have ever lived in close proximity to mercury deposits in nature.
Yes. Because mercury is 13.6 times denser than water (Q&A: Liquids are denser than water or alcohol), you could walk over a swimming pool full of mercury (if you didn't lose your balance and fall down). Mercury, on the other hand, can induce mercury poisoning (mercury toxicity) when consumed or absorbed via the skin. This can be harmful or fatal if not treated promptly.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that you should not eat more than 320 grams of seafood per week to avoid exceeding toxic levels of exposure to methylmercury. The most sensitive population for methylmercury exposure is pregnant women because it can reach the brain of the fetus through the placenta.
Therefore, you should not consume any amount of mercury beyond what is recommended by federal agencies. Swimming in mercury is not likely to cause adverse effects unless you ingest some of it through food contamination or absorption through the skin. In those cases, you should seek medical attention immediately.
Mercury is a metal with a density of 13.5 grams per cubic centimeter (0.49 pounds per cubic inch). This indicates that the density of mercury is around 13 times larger than the density of water. As a result, several items that sink in water will float on mercury, such as lead, silver, and steel. However, the opposite is not true - something that floats in water cannot be made out of mercury alone because any material with a higher density than mercury would do so.
However, because mercury is a liquid at temperatures below 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit), objects made out of it would have to be submerged in the liquid to work. Lead, for example, would not be useful as a float because its melting point is approximately 708 degrees Celsius (1340 degrees Fahrenheit). Silver would be better because its melting point is about 960 degrees Celsius (1700 degrees Fahrenheit). But even silver would get too hot to handle after only a few hours since the heat capacity of mercury is very high compared to other metals.
As you can see, using lead or silver as a float would be unwise because they would melt before the mercury did. Only materials that are both dense and non-melting could be used as floats. Some examples include glass, stone, and plastic. Of these options, stone is the best choice because it is both heavy and won't break easily.
Because mercury has a high density, most other substances float in it. Metals such as nickel, iron, and copper fall into this category, as do mixed solids such as most forms of stone and organic materials such as plastics and wood. Liquids and gases with lower densities than mercury will also float in it. Examples include water, air, and some oils.
Mercury is used in products from thermometers to barometers because its density allows it to be used to mark high-and low-pressure systems on weather balloons. In science labs around the world, children play with mercury vapor in glass tubes by using heat or light to change the state of matter of the liquid metal from a solid (mercury) to a gas (mercury vapor). The kids then use rubber gloves and precautionary measures to avoid contact with the mercury skin.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends that you don't try to remove mercury from your house through regular cleaning methods because it will just spread throughout the environment. Instead, call a professional cleanup company so they can take care of the job effectively without exposing family members to any risk of exposure.
Yes, you would float on metallic mercury based just on density. Mercury has a density (g/cm3) of 13.5, while the human body (65-80% water) has a density of roughly 1.0. Because the surface of liquid mercury has very low friction, standing and even walking would be difficult. You could move your legs in small circles to keep balance, but otherwise you would just sink into the mercury.
The skin of humans is about 0.1 mm thick, so it would be impossible to injure yourself by walking on mercury. Liquid mercury is also extremely toxic, but its effects are mainly due to exposure through inhalation or ingestion of small quantities over a long period of time. The main problem with mercury is that it can find its way into the brain through the blood stream or inside cells where it can cause serious damage over time.
As far as we know, no one has ever attempted to stand up in liquid mercury but it is safe to assume that it would be difficult if not impossible. The metal would fill your feet until they were submerged up to the ankle, and since you're still floating above the surface of the mercury you wouldn't be able to feel any pressure changes under your feet when walking.
Mercury is used in laboratory experiments because it is both dense and toxic. In small amounts it is essential for life as we know it, so don't worry about dumping some into your backyard pool from time to time!