Uses of Mercuric Chloride and Potential Harmful Effects

What is Mercuric chloride?

Mercuric chloride, or also known as Mercury (II) chloride, is a chemical compound which consists of mercury and chlorine that has the chemical formula HgCl2. Mercuric chloride is an odorless white crystalline solid. It has the melting point of 277°C and boiling point of 304°C.

This chemical is slightly soluble in water. Despite its tendency to sublime, Mercuric chloride does not exist as a salt composed of discrete ions, but rather the chemical’s salt is composed of linear triatomic molecules.

Alternative Names of Mercuric chloride

Mercuric chloride, in chemistry, is often referred as many other names. Some known alternative names of mercuric chloride are:

  • Bavit B
  • Bichloride of Mercury
  • Calochlor
  • Corrosive mercury chloride
  • Corrosive sublimate
  • CRC
  • Dichloromercury
  • MC
  • Mercury Bichloride
  • Mercury (II) Chloride
  • Mercury Chloromercurate (II)
  • Mercury Dichloride
  • Mercury Perchloride
  • Mercurous chloride
  • NCI-C60173
  • Perchloride of Mercury
  • Sublimate
  • TL 898

Uses of Mercuric chloride

Although mercuric chloride has several uses to name, the some of the uses were only applied historically. Some of mercuric chloride uses can be seen as listed below.

  • Chemical reagent: Mercuric chloride is sometimes used to form an amalgam metals like aluminum.
  • Stabilizing agent
  • Historic purposes in photography: Mercuric chloride as a photographic intensifier in the 19th It was used to produce positive pictures in the collodion process of photography.
  • Historic purposes in preservation: Mercuric chloride, in preservation purposes, is used to preserve anthropological and biological specimens during the late 19th century to early 20th Those specimens were dipped in or painted with the mercuric solution. The preservation with mercuric chloride was done to prevent the specimens’ destruction that may be caused by moths, mites, and molds. The chemical is also used in wood preservation.
  • Medicinal use: In the middle age, mercuric chloride was used by Arab to disinfect wounds. It was also used as a treatment for syphilis before the advance development of antibiotic. Mercuric chloride, as a syphilis treatment, was inhaled, ingested, injected, or even applied topically. The chemical is also used to treat ulcerative symptoms. It is applied topically to cure ulcerative symptoms.
  • Seed surface sterilizer
  • Disinfectant
  • Topical antiseptic
  • Pesticides: Mercuric chloride can also be used as pesticides, specifically fungicides. For more information about pesticides, you may read Effects of Chemical Pesticides on Human Health.

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Health effects that Can be Caused Mercuric chloride

Mercuric chloride may have beneficial uses, but the chemical also come with a health risk that may affect us. It is also classified as an extremely toxic chemical. Mercuric chloride can affect us through many routes, such as inhalation, ingestion, and skin absorption. Some health risks that are caused by mercuric chloride can be seen as listed below.

  • Corrosive to the mucous membrane
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Burning sensation
  • Shortness of breath
  • Redness in skin
  • Skin blisters
  • Skin burns
  • Redness in the eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Severe deep burns in the eyes
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Abdominal pain
  • Burning sensation
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Salivation
  • Seizures
  • Shock
  • Collapse
  • Insomnia
  • Hallucinations
  • Tremor
  • Tachycardia: It is a type of heart rhythm disorder.

Prolonged exposure of mercuric chloride can bring us more dangerous effects. Those effects of Mercuric chloride’s prolonged exposure include:

  • Skin sensitization
  • Central nervous system depression (which leads to sensory and memory disturbance)
  • Kidney damage
  • Nephrotic syndrome (which leads to proteinuria): Nephrotic syndrome is a kidney disorder which causes the body to excrete too much protein in the urine.
  • Proteinuria: Proteinuria is a condition where there is an excess presence of protein in the urine.
  • Acute renal failure
  • Ataxia: Ataxia is a condition where a person loss full control of their bodily movement.
  • Hyperemia of optic nerve heads
  • Retinal vein occlusion (RVO): This effects is the rarest effects among other health risk of Mercuric chloride. Retinal vein occlusion or RVO is a blockage of the small veins that carry blood away from the retina.

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First Aid Measures of Mercuric chloride’s Health Effects and Act of Prevention

If you happen to get exposed to Mercuric chloride, you can minimalize the health risks that may occur. The first aid measures that will be explained is divided by route of exposures. First aid measures of Mercuric chloride exposure can be seen as listed below.

  • Inhalation: Inhale fresh air as soon as you can and rest for a while. Get into half-upright position. Seek for medical attention. If the victim is unconscious, move the victim to fresh air. Check the victim’s vital sign (which includes pulse and respiratory rate). Provide CPR or artificial respiration if needed.
  • Skin contact/absorption: Remove clothes that are contaminated. Rinse the contaminated area of the skin with plenty of water and soaps for at least 15 minutes. Ask for immediate medical attention.
  • Eye contact: Remove contact lenses if you wear one. Rinse your eyes with plenty of water for at least 15 minutes. Rinsing using a lukewarm water is preferred. Go to a doctor immediately.
  • Ingestion: Rinse your mouth.

To avoid mercuric chloride harmful effects in the future, you may want to have an attention to the act of prevention. Those acts of prevention are also divided depending on the route of exposures. The acts of prevention can be seen as listed below.

  • Inhalation: Wear a breathing protection.
  • Skin: Wear protective clothing and gloves.
  • Eyes: Wear eye protection (in combination with the breathing protection).
  • Ingestion: Avoid eating or drinking when working with the mercuric chloride. Wash your hands thoroughly before eating and drinking.

Thereby the explanation on what is mercuric chloride, its uses, harmful effects, and first aid measure. Hopefully its useful for all the readers. Thank you.