Mercury is the only metal that is liquid. There are about a dozen radioactive isotopes of mercury known. These particles adhere to the atoms, rendering them radioactive. In medicine, two radioactive isotopes of mercury are used: mercury-197 and mercury-203. Both radioisotopes are used in diagnostic imaging procedures called gamma scintigraphy and radionuclide ventriculography.
Radioactive decay is the spontaneous loss of energy from an atomic nucleus, resulting in transformation of the nucleus from one state to another with a change in mass. All elements except hydrogen and helium are composed of nuclei and electrons; thus, all substances other than gases, liquids, and solids are radioactive. Radioactivity was first discovered by Albert Einstein in 1904 while working on the development of the first nuclear reactor. He observed that uranium emits particles that have properties similar to those of cathode rays and named them "alpha rays".
Alpha radiation is one of the three types of radiation: beta radiation, which is electromagnetic in nature and consists of electrons moving along magnetic fields; and gamma radiation, a form of energy that comes from the disintegration of an atom's nucleus. Alpha particles are also emitted during radioactive decay but they are much smaller than electrons or photons and can pass through solid objects. They are used in medical treatments called alpha radiotherapy because they are highly effective against certain types of cancer cells without harming surrounding tissue.
In reality, all elements, including mercury, may exist in solid, liquid, or gas forms. Furthermore, many substances have more than one solid form, with often very different properties. For example, ice is less dense than water, so under normal conditions it will float on top of the fluid.
Mercury exists in nature as a mixture of elemental mercury (Hg) and organic mercury (Hg^+). Elemental mercury is the most stable form of mercury and is always present in small quantities as an impurity in gold, silver, platinum, zinc, copper, and iron. The other type of mercury, organic mercury, can be found in certain types of bacteria and algae that live in aquatic environments. Organic mercury gets into the environment through industrial processes such as coal-mining and ore processing, or through municipal waste dumps. It can also enter the environment through agricultural practices such as irrigation with contaminated water or by applying manure from livestock fed with untreated food waste as fertilizer.
In general, elemental mercury is not harmful because it can't be absorbed through our skin or eaten. However, if you were to swallow some elemental mercury, for example if someone gave you some broken glass containing mercury compounds and told you it was candy, you would be at risk of getting sick.
Mercury that is inorganic (i.e., elemental mercury) is less toxic than organic mercury (i.e., methylmercury). Inorganic mercury is not transformed into methylmercury by bacteria so it can be removed from the environment by using methods such as incineration or cement dusting. Organic mercury, on the other hand, is converted into inorganic mercury by bacteria so it cannot be removed completely by these methods.
In addition to being less toxic, inorganic mercury is also more mobile in the environment. It is absorbed by soil particles and plants, and is therefore potentially re-emitted into the air or water if those materials are burned or disposed of in landfill sites. This ability to move around within the environment means that inorganic mercury is more likely to contaminate areas where people may come into contact with it, for example through eating food grown in contaminated soil or drinking water that has been affected by industrial pollution.
Organic mercury, on the other Hand, is bound up with living matter so it does not travel far. It enters the food chain only when someone eats an animal who has eaten food containing methylmercury.
It's categorized as a transition metal. In the most prevalent isotope, mercury atoms have 80 electrons and 80 protons, with 122 neutrons. However, there are also 77, 81, and 123 neutron isotopes. So, yes, mercury has 80 neutrons.
Furthermore, like other metals, mercury is made up of electrons in a cloud or sea around the nucleus. But because electrons are negatively charged, they tend to stay away from the nucleus unless an agent forces them in. Neutrons are positively charged and so are able to penetrate into the center of the atom where they cause nuclear reactions that allow other elements to be created. So, by adding neutrons to mercury, scientists are able to create new elements for use in medicine and technology. Some examples include Polonium, Radon, Rhenium, and Technetium.
Neutrons are important to the chemistry of mercury because they can join with other particles to form new compounds. Without these interactions, there would be no change in the number of atoms of each element in a sample. For example, if you added together the numbers of neutrons, electrons, and protons in carbon, it would always be 12.
Elemental mercury, often known as quicksilver, is a gleaming, silver-white metal that is liquid at ambient temperature. It is found in some older thermometers, fluorescent light bulbs, and electrical switches. Modern thermometers use IR sensors instead, but these still contain small amounts of elemental mercury.
The word "mercury" comes from the Greek methurgoras, which means "according to plan." In medicine, the term refers to any toxic substance that enters the body through the lungs (i.e., aerosolized) or digestive system.
It is natural for some amount of mercury to be present in our environment. However, excessive exposure to mercury can cause serious health problems. The only safe level of exposure to mercury is zero exposures over time. Exposure can occur through inhalation of mercury vapor or ingestion of contaminated food or water. Organic molecules like methylmercury are released when plants decay and become exposed to oxygen. They can then enter fish eating bacteria in the ocean and be converted into more toxic inorganic mercury compounds.
People who work with chemicals inside their homes can also be exposed to mercury. If you work with lamps or fluorescent lights, make sure to wear protective clothing, such as gloves, boots, and eye protection.
Mercury has been used in medical practices for many years.