Mercury 1 Iodide

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mercury 1 iodide is a red-orange crystal that is soluble in alcohol, ether, chloroform, ethyl acetate and olive oil. It is a semiconductor material used in some x-ray and gamma-ray detection and imaging equipment operating at room temperature. It is also used in the preparation of Nessler’s reagent for detection of ammonia, and was formerly used as a treatment for syphilis. Mercury (II) iodide is very sensitive to light and heat; when it is heated above the transition temperature of 126oC it turns yellow but will return to the red-orange alpha form upon cooling.

It is a highly toxic poison if swallowed, but is less soluble in the stomach than its salts, allowing for prompt gastric emptying and subsequent recovery. It is absorbed through the skin and may cause nerve damage in high doses. It is also a strong irritant, irritating to the eyes and respiratory tract and is known to be carcinogenic.

The chemical is listed as a hazardous air pollutant under the Clean Air Act, and is classified as toxic by inhalation and ingestion. It is also a potent neurotoxin.

Hand protection must be worn when handling mercury iodide. Nitrile or neoprene gloves are recommended. Eye protection must be worn, preferably an approved pair of chemical splash goggles. Mercury iodide should be stored in a cool, dry area, away from moisture and sunlight. It is also very flammable, and the fumes are a fire hazard. Mercury iodide should never be placed in an open flame.