Mercury is a substance that is hazardous to health and environment even in very tiny doses. Therefore, several initiatives were taken by government authorities, especially at the European and international level, to reduce mercury emissions in order to minimise its impact on man and the environment.
Mercury as a metal is known since Antiquity. Its chemical symbol Hg moreover comes from the Greek "hydrargyrum", i.e. "liquid silver".
This is a "heavy" metal, therefore especially persistent, just like zinc, cadmium and lead.
Its own exceptional physical-chemical properties and its capacity to take on several shapes makes it high in demand. It is nevertheless a very toxic substance!
Its emissions into the environment, whether natural or man-made, are a high-risk for the eco-systems. Like the persistent organic pollutants, it can travel in the atmosphere over long distances and it bio-accumulates throughout the food chain. This affects the human health, especially that of children and pregnant women.
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