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Floggi;52836 wrote: Now we’re getting somewhere! Good points, I really do appreciate that!

The question now becomes: is mercury mercury? What I mean with this question is that there are different types of mercury. Sometimes simplified to “organic mercury” and “inorganic (or anorganic) mercury”, though the chemical names are more specific.

Compare this to table salt, which is sodium chloride. Above, I focused on the chloride part; now, I’ll focus on the sodium part.

Sodium is a highly corrosive metal. If it contacts the skin, it causes severe, painful burns. In contact with water, it even burns and it could even explode – I’m sure you all saw this at a high-school demonstration experiment, didn’t you?

Anyway, this same sodium makes up 50% of table salt (that’s 50% if you count atoms; it’s less than 50% by weight, because sodium atoms are lighter than chloride atoms).

So now I could argue that a white grainy powder that contains as much as 50% of such a highly corrosive, even explosive metal, must be very dangerous.

Of course, this kind of reasoning is wrong. Why is it wrong? It’s wrong because even though this constituent of table salt is called sodium, it’s present in a totally different form than sodium as a pure metal.

Now let’s get back to thiomersal / mercury.

What I’m asking is: to which form of mercury do the EPA guidelines apply, and which form of mercury is present in thiomersal?

That same chemistry class probably also told you that the danger of a product is related to the amount you use. Pure sodium burns with water because it is pure sodium. The sodium in salt is bound by the chlorine, which makes it not dangerous. Now, if you put it in water, it still remains the same salt. In your body, the chlorine and sodium is used to build other molecules. But this happens molecule per molecule -> not dangerous.
The difference between sodium and mercury is that your body doesn’t need mercury to survive, your body can easily get rid of the sodium (absolutely not true for the mercury) and mercury is dangerous even in the slightest amount. So your comparison does not apply.