I have read extensively about Prof. Wetterhahn and in the Wikipedia Wetterhahn mercury poisoning article it said her blood mercury (I do not know if the test measures mercury or the compound) was 4000 millionths of a gram per liter. I realize all the mercury was not in her blood but this does not sound like a lot of mercury, about a fiftieth of a gram. And the amount spilled was a few drops -- which however are very heavy and maybe those few drops were a few grams which maybe explains a lot?

Naively, I would think that poisons would tend to be bound up with the cells they damage. But perhap dimethyl mercury does damage and yet keeps circulating? Or is it something like in the brain a very small amount of some vital compound(s) is somehow destroyed or can't be made and therefore dimethyl Hg might not work by directly killing neurons?

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    $\begingroup$ Yes, have a look: chemistry.stackexchange.com/questions/88995/… $\endgroup$ Jun 13 at 3:42
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    $\begingroup$ As related in the book titled “Ignition!”, by John Drury Clark, it was once proposed to fire up a test rocket engine using 100 pounds of dimethyl mercury reacting with red fuming nitric acid. Fortunately, Eastman Kodak declined to produce the dimethyl mercury. The person who proposed using dimethyl mercury as rocket fuel thought is was “harmless as mother’s milk”. $\endgroup$
    – Ed V
    Jun 13 at 14:44
  • $\begingroup$ @edv: story i heard was american scientists were attempting to brain damage or kill the soviet rocket wizards by getting them to try to use dimethyl mercury in the own space program. hydrazine is a very toxic fuel component that is actually used but i think dimethyl Hg would be far worse, almost no way anyone involved would not get sick. i bet the soviets would have realized the dangers. $\endgroup$
    – releseabe
    Jun 13 at 18:58
  • $\begingroup$ @EdV: I noticed in chem in HS and after was sort of casual about toxic stuff. In university my pre-med friends would joke about coughing on fumes but by the mid 1980s or, they had begun to eliminate some stuff from chem labs. The chem teacher I had repeated the same stories over and over -- i have to say this guy probably addled himself. $\endgroup$
    – releseabe
    Jun 13 at 19:51


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