Mercury is a naturally occurring element that conducts electricity and expands and contracts in response to changes in temperature and pressure. At room temperature, it is a liquid. These properties of mercury have led to its use in the industrial sector as well as in many consumer products. Unfortunately, mercury and its compounds can have serious effects on the health of humans and wildlife.
Mercury is highly toxic and can harm the brain, kidneys, and lungs. Unborn and young children are particularly at risk because their nervous systems are still developing.
Human exposure to mercury occurs most frequently as a result of eating mercury contaminated fish. Mercury released to the environment from products such as broken thermometers may ultimately end up in water bodies, contaminating fish and wildlife.