Mercury, also known as quicksilver, is the only commonly available liquid metal at room temperature. Mercury is silver white and heavy metal with poor heat conductivity and fair electric conductivity. Mercury is extracted from various mineral sources present in the earth’s crust; cinnabar is the widely used source of mercury. Cinnabar is a red color rock containing mercury sulfide, mercury is extracted from cinnabar rock by heating and converting the mercury to vapors and then condensing the vapors to form mercury. Recycled mercury is among the other major sources of mercury.
Mercury’s rate of thermal expansion is constant at a wide range of temperature; therefore, mercury is widely used in thermometers. Owing to its high density, mercury is also used in manometers and barometers. Major salts of mercury include mercuric chloride, mercury fulminate and mercuric sulfide among others. The salts of mercury are used in the production of rat poison, disinfectants, insecticides, etc. Amalgams are alloys of mercury with other metals such as silver, gold, etc. are used for dental fillings. Major end user industries for mercury include healthcare, pharmaceuticals, electronics and in the production of several chemical and metals.
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Mercury is used for several consumer products such as barometers, thermometers and electric equipment among others. In these products, mercury is generally trapped in a casing and exposure to mercury can lead to several health hazards including kidney damage, nerve damage and skin irritation among others. Excess release of mercury in the environment poses severe environmental threats. Mercury is used as a catalyst in the production of chlorine. Chlor-alkali production is among major end user segment for mercury. However, chlor-alkali production is among major sources of mercury release in the environment and there have been significant developments in mercury free technology for chlor-alkali production. Owing to which, use of mercury in chlor-alkali production has been reduced across the globe leading to excessive supply of mercury and a decline in the price.
Health care and pharmaceutical are the most dominant end user segment for mercury and the trend is anticipated to continue during the forecast period. High growth in pharmaceutical and health care industry across the globe is among major factors driving demand for mercury. Moreover increasing demand for mercury for production electric equipments such as switches is also anticipated to be among major growth drivers for the market. The environmental and health hazards associated with mercury have been restraining mercury market growth. Increasing research and development to increase application scope of mercury is expected to offer huge growth opportunity in the market.
Asia Pacific dominates the global mercury market and the trend is anticipated to continue for a foreseeable future. Increasing industrial investment and high growth in several end user segments in the emerging economies of India and China is among major factors driving demand for mercury in Asia Pacific. There has been increase in intervention from regulatory bodies, and growth in stringent regulations to regulate the use of mercury, mainly in North America and Europe. Owing to which, demand for mercury is anticipated to grow at a sluggish rate in North America and Europe.
Some manufacturers in the mercury market include Bethlehem Apparatus Co., Inc, Acton Technologies, Inc., D.F. Goldsmith Chemical & Metal Corp and NOAH Technologies Corporation among several others
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