Completely and totally off-topic and without any meritwhatsoever

From: Joe R. <>
Date: Wed Sep 8 11:51:28 2004

At 06:36 PM 9/7/04 -0700, you wrote:
>>From: "William Donzelli" <>
>>> I suspect the hazmat team over reacted just a little.
>>This is often the case - the hazmat guys I have talked to have been pretty
>>reasonable, but due to public pressure, they often have to put on a show.
>>> Mercury in elemental form is not all that dangerous ( or
>>> most of us old timers would be dead or vegetables by now ).
>>> It is most dangerous as salts or as long term exposure
>>> to vapor.
>>Finally someone speaks the truth! Elemental mercury mostly passes thru the
>>body in one big blob, and very little is absorbed. I think it is rarely
>>used as an antibiotic, as well.
>>The compounds are the nasty things, as they due damage pretty
>>quickly. Also, mercury vapor is also very dangerous *even in short
>>periods of exposure*! The poor guys in South America that purify gold thru
>>amalgamation (and the subsequent vaporizing to get the mercury back) tend
>>to have very short lives if they are not careful.
> People that made hats used to use mercury ( I don't know what for )

   That was back when they made beaver hats. I think the mercury was used
for tanning/treating the beaver hides. I used to live in California (yes,
me in the People's Republic!) A few friends and I dabbled around with
searching for gold and I did some research and found that the old time gold
miners use to crush their gold ore and mix it with mercury. The mercury and
gold would form a semi-liquid amalgam that they would squeeze out by use of
a cheese cloth. They then hollowed out a potato and placed the amalgam in
it and placed it in the embers of their camp fire. The heat would evaporate
the mercury and leave pure gold. You can imagine the amount of mercury
vapor it released!!! However even the 49ers were aware of the dangers of
mercury vapor, they noted that they were carefull leave the area for at
least several days after they put the potato in the fire.

   BTW years ago I remember reading a National Geographic article about a
several hundred year old Spanish ship that they had found off the coast of
Florida. This ship was on it's way to the New World when it sank so there
was no gold or silver aboard. However it was carrying a LARGE load of
mercury to be used for gold refining (something like 20-30 tons as as I
recall). The pictures with the article showed huge puddles of liquid
mercury on the sea floor even after all this time. IIRC the finders were
going to try and salvage the mercury since it still had significant value.
Also IIRC the article said that the lose of the ship was a huge fincail
lose to Spain at the time due to the huge quantity of mercury aboard and
it's cost.


>but that is where the term "Mad as a Hatter" came from. The vapor
>was known to cause mental problems as well as other physical problems.
> Maybe it is already too late for Sellam. Remember his Altar comment.
>A sure sign he is missing some marbles.
> I used to handle the stuff a lot when I was a kid and it hasn't
>hardly effected me ( has it? ).

   It nevir affecttted meeee (twitch, twitch). :-)


>>William Donzelli
Received on Wed Sep 08 2004 - 11:51:28 BST

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