Mercury, as a heavy metal, can be poisonous once the human body has ingested/been exposed to a certain amount. Metallic and liquid mercury will begin to evaporate at room temperatures, meaning that it can be inhaled and then absorbed in the nasal passages, lungs, etc. A mercury spill can lead to quick exposure, which brings on symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease and acrodynia. If the spill occurs in a closed-in area, such as a laboratory, then the amount of time before toxicity is reached is even less, since there is little place for the mercury to dissipate.
High doses and rates of exposure to mercury can cause blindness, cerebral palsy, mental retardation, seizures and birth defects. It is especially harmful to children and infants. Even the small amount in thermometers is enough to harm a child who breathes it in. The government wants us to be safe, so they recommend calling someone to clean it up so you don’t harm yourself or children that may be nearby.
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