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What is mercury acetate?

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Quick Answer

Mercury acetate is a chemical compound with a solid crystalline structure that is white or yellow in color. This substance has a mild vinegar odor that is toxic when it is inhaled. Since mercury acetate is hazardous, it must be handled with care, warns Cameo Chemicals.

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Full Answer

Mercury acetate is soluble in water, alcohol and diethyl ether. When mercury acetate is dissolved in water, the chemical starts to decompose. Decomposition triggered by water tends to form an insoluble product with a yellow color. Mercury acetate is also very sensitive to light. When this compound is heated to decomposition by light, fumes of mercury are released. Cameo Chemicals explains that these fumes can become toxic under intense heat. Mercury acetate also begins to decompose when its boiling point is approached or passed.

According to Wikipedia, mercury acetate is used in oxymercuration reactions. This chemical compound is also used as a reagent to create organomecury compounds. These compounds are generated from unsaturated organic precursors. Cameo Chemicals warns that mercury acetate also poses a serious health hazard. If this substance is ingested, mercury acetate can cause hypovolemic shock and result in death. Continuous or long term exposure to mercury acetate can lead to death by kidney failure, as well.

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