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Urban Environmental Program in New England

What is Mercury?

Mercury is a naturally occurring element that is found in air, water and soil. It exists in several forms: elemental or metallic mercury, inorganic mercury compounds, and organic mercury compounds. Elemental or metallic mercury is a shiny, silver-white metal and is liquid at room temperature. If heated, it is a colorless, odorless gas. Exposures to mercury can affect the human nervous system and harm the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs, and immune system. The most common way we are exposed to mercury is by eating fish or shellfish that are contaminated with mercury.

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