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Mercury is a naturally occurring element that is a silver-colored liquid at room temperature. It is sometimes referred to as a "heavy metal". Historically, mercury has been valued for its ability to:

  • Conduct electricity;
  • Measure pressure and temperature;
  • Form alloys with almost all other metals.

Because of these diverse properties, mercury has been used in a large number of household, commercial, medical and industrial applications, including:

  • Medical instruments and equipment, such as blood pressure, gauges, thermometers and x-ray machines;
  • Fluorescent lights;
  • Electrical switches and relays used in certain devices and equipment, such as lighting, thermostats, pumps, space heaters and computers;
  • Dental amalgam.

While mercury use in the United States has declined, the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that manufacturers use 500 - 600 metric tons of mercury annually as part of their production processes or to create products that rely on mercury's chemical and physical properties.

Mercury Information

Mercury and Our Environment
Mercury Product Alternatives
Illinois Mercury Reduction and Assessment Programs
Federal and State Mercury Reduction Programs
Compact Fluorescent Lamps
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