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Synonyms: calomel, mercurous chloride, mercury chloride, mercury monochloride
Molecular formula: HgCl or Hg2Cl2
CAS No: 7546-30-7
Appearance: dense white powder
Melting point: 302 C
Boiling point: 384 C
Density (g cm-3): 7.15
Water solubility: insoluble
May be light sensitive. Incompatible with strong bases, carbonates, sulfides, cyanides, alkalies, sulfites, sulfates, hydrogen peroxide, ammonia, iodine, hydrogen bromide.
Poison. May be fatal if swallowed or inhaled. Chronic exposure may lead to systemic effects and build-up of mercury in the brain, liver and kidneys. May cause memory loss, tremors and other serious effects. Typical TLV/TWA 0.1 mg/m3.
(The meaning of any abbreviations which appear in this section is given here.)
ORL-RAT LD50 210 mg kg-1
Safety glasses, good ventilation. Avoid exposure to dust.
(The meaning of any safety phrases which appear in this section is given here.)
During much of the 20th-century, children suffered from an ailment called pink disease, which caused peeling skin on the extremities as well as regressive behavior. In 1948, a keen-eyed Cincinnati pediatrician named Josef Warkany noticed a common risk factor in these children: they had all been given teething powders containing calomel, a mercury derivative. Only about 1 in 500 children whose parents gave them calomel got pink disease -- suggesting that a constitutional vulnerability to mercury was part of the clinical picture. Soon after the powders were taken off the market, pink disease disappeared.