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  1. #1
    Vlad Soare's Avatar
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    Mercuric Chloride

    Hello,

    What precautions should be taken when handling mercury(II) chloride?
    Besides the obvious things, like wearing gloves, not eating/sniffing/drinking the stuff, keeping it away from children, etc., is there anything else I should be especially careful about?

    Thank you.

  2. #2
    Necator's Avatar
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    MSDS can be found here. Personally, I would not even consider getting near it outside a well controlled chem lab, with good guidance from experienced lab personnel.
    Henrik Lauridsen

  3. #3
    Tony-S's Avatar
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    I'd also stay clear of it. It's really bad stuff and has an LD50 that's pretty low. Unless you have a fume hood, proper laboratory attire, and the appropriate training for safely handling it, it's not something to screw around with.
    Last edited by Tony-S; 01-10-2011 at 02:52 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  4. #4

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    I work in a Chemical lab. I went out of my way to find an alternate method when the procedure we were doing called for HgCl2. It is a Cumulative poison like Pb. Avoid it's use if possible.

    It is a health hazard 4. The most dangerious and defined as:
    Very short exposure could cause death or serious residual injury even though prompt medical attention was given.

  5. #5

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    You also need to consider disposal after use. In most places you are obliged to use an approved agency. It would be appallingly irresponsible to to otherwise.

  6. #6
    Adrian Twiss's Avatar
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    I got some Mercuric Chloride in a batch of Chemicals I inherited from a retired photographer. As I had no use for it I thought I would have trouble disposing of it. Luckily my next door neighbour was an analytical chemist so he was able to dispose of it for me in the approved manner.

  7. #7

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    Another vote from me to avoid using the mercury compound if at all possible.

    Here is a true story about working with mercury compounds, not mercury (II) chloride, but close enough to on-topic to be interesting I hope. A few years ago there as a professor (Karen E. Wetterhahn at Dartmouth College) who specialized in the chemistry of mercury compounds. She was an experienced researcher. (Notice the use of the past tense.) She spilled a small amount of a certain organo-mercury compound on her gloved hand. It turned out that the this compound was able to diffuse through the latex glove as well as through her skin.

    Here is a wikipedia giving a short history of what happened next: "The accidental spill occurred on August 14, 1996 but symptoms of her mercury poisoning were not detected until six months later, at which time the poisoning was irreversible. Wetterhahn suddenly became very ill in January of 1997 and was hospitalized; she then went into a coma which lasted until she died in June."

  8. #8
    Ken Nadvornick's Avatar
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    Re: Karen E. Wetterhahn, see "The Trembling Edge of Science" by Karen Endicott, Dartmouth Alumni Magazine, 1998.

    Ken
    "Hate is an adolescent term used to stop discussion with people you disagree with. You can do better than that."
    —'blanksy', December 13, 2013

  9. #9
    Jerevan's Avatar
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    Sad but interesting article, Ken. Well worth a read for all of us, even when it comes to the handling of "normal" darkroom chemicals.
    “Do your work, then step back. The only path to serenity.” - Lao Tzu

  10. #10

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    Given that Mercuric Chloride was used as a treatment for syphilis it seems doubtful it is as toxic as the unfortunate Karen Wetterhahn story would have us believe.

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