CAS number 593-74-8 YesY
PubChem 11645
ChemSpider 11155 YesY
EC number 209-805-3
UN number 3383
MeSH Dimethyl+mercury
ChEBI CHEBI:307​86 YesY
RTECS number OW3010000
Beilstein Reference 3600205
Gmelin Reference 25889
Jmol-3D images Image 1
Image 2
Molecular formula C2H6Hg
Molar mass 230.66 g mol−1
Exact mass 232.017575796 g mol-1
Appearance Colorless liquid
Density 2.961 g cm-3
Melting point

-43 °C, 230 K, -45 °F

Boiling point

93-94 °C, 366-367 K, 199-201 °F

EU Index 080-007-00-3
EU classification Very Toxic T+Dangerous for the Environment (Nature) N
R-phrases R26/27/28, R33, R50/53
S-phrases (S1/2), S13, S28, S36, S45, S60, S61
NFPA 704
NFPA 704.svg
Flash point 5 °C
 YesY (verify) (what is: YesY/N?)
Except where noted otherwise, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C, 100 kPa)
Infobox references

Dimethylmercury ((CH3)2Hg) is an organomercury compound. This colorless liquid is one of the strongest known neurotoxins. It is described as having a slightly sweet smell, although inhaling enough vapor to detect its odor would be hazardous.


Synthesis, structure, reactions

The compound was one of the earliest organometallic complexes reported, reflecting its considerable stability. It is formed by treating sodium amalgam with methyl halides:

Hg + 2 Na + 2 CH3I → (CH3)2Hg + 2 NaI

It can also be obtained by alkylation of mercuric chloride with methyllithium. The molecule adopts a linear structure with Hg-C bond lengths of 2.083 Å.[1]


The most striking feature of the compound is its nonreactivity toward water. The corresponding organocadmium and organozinc compounds hydrolyze rapidly. The difference reflects the low affinity of Hg(II) for oxygen ligands. The compound reacts with mercuric chloride to give the mixed chloro-methyl compound:

(CH3)2Hg + HgCl2 → 2 CH3HgCl

Whereas dimethylmercury is a volatile liquid, CH3HgCl is a crystalline solid.


Dimethylmercury has almost no applications because of the risks involved. In toxicology, it is used as a reference toxin. It has also been used to calibrate NMR instruments for detection of mercury, although less toxic mercury salts are preferred.[2][3]


Dimethylmercury is extremely dangerous. Absorption of doses as low as 0.1 mL has proven fatal.[4] The risks are enhanced because of the high vapor pressure of the liquid.

Dimethylmercury passes through latex, PVC, butyl, and neoprene rapidly (within seconds) and is absorbed through the skin. Therefore, most laboratory gloves do not provide adequate protection from it, and the only safe precaution is to handle dimethylmercury while wearing highly resistant laminated gloves underneath long-cuffed neoprene or other heavy-duty gloves. A long face shield and work under a fume hood are also indicated.[4][5]

Dimethylmercury crosses the blood–brain barrier easily, probably owing to formation of a complex with cysteine. It is eliminated from the organism slowly, and therefore has a tendency to bioaccumulate. The symptoms of poisoning may be delayed by months, possibly too late for effective treatment.

The toxicity of dimethylmercury was highlighted with the death of the inorganic chemist Karen Wetterhahn of Dartmouth College in 1997, months after spilling no more than a few drops of this compound on her latex-gloved hand.[4]

See also


  1. ^ Holleman, A. F.; Wiberg, E. "Inorganic Chemistry" Academic Press: San Diego, 2001. ISBN 0-12-352651-5.
  2. ^ Chris Singer (1998-03-10). "199Hg Standards". http://www.chem.northwestern.edu/~ohallo/HgNMRStandards/. Retrieved 2009-05-03. 
  3. ^ Roy Hoffman (2007-02-21). "Mercury NMR". http://chem.ch.huji.ac.il/nmr/techniques/1d/row6/hg.html. Retrieved 2009-05-03. 
  4. ^ a b c Hazard Information Bulletin - Dimethylmercury. OSHA Safety and Health Information Bulletins (SHIBs), 1997-1998
  5. ^ Simon Cotton, Dimethylmercury and mercury poisoning. The Karen Wetterhahn story. Molecule of the Month.

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • dimethylmercury — dimetilgyvsidabris statusas T sritis chemija formulė (CH₃)₂Hg atitikmenys: angl. dimethylmercury rus. диметилртуть …   Chemijos terminų aiškinamasis žodynas

  • dimethylmercury — noun The organometallic compound of mercury (CH)Hg that is a dangerous neurotoxin …   Wiktionary

  • dimethylmercury — A contaminant of seafood products synthesized in sediments from mercury and mercury containing chemicals dumped in waters supporting marine life. The methylmercury is concentrated in aquatic life forms and can thus be deposited in fishes intended …   Medical dictionary

  • Karen Wetterhahn — (October 16, 1948 June 8 1997) was a well known professor of chemistry at Dartmouth College specializing in toxic metal exposure. On August 14 1996, while working with an organic mercury compound called dimethylmercury, she spilled a drop or two… …   Wikipedia

  • Karen Wetterhahn — (16 octobre 1948 8 juin 1997) est une chimiste américaine. Elle a mené de nombreuses recherches sur les effets des métaux lourds sur la santé. En 1996, elle menait des études sur les interactions entre les ions mercure et la… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Mercury poisoning — Classification and external resources Elemental mercury ICD 10 T …   Wikipedia

  • organometallic compound — ▪ chemical compound Introduction  any member of a class of substances containing at least one metal to carbon bond in which the carbon is part of an organic group. Organometallic compounds constitute a very large group of substances that have… …   Universalium

  • Organomercury — compounds Organomercury refers to the group of organometallic compounds that contain mercury. Typically the Hg C bond is stable toward air and moisture but sensitive to light. Important organomercury compounds are the methylmercury cation,… …   Wikipedia

  • Диметилртуть — Диметилртуть …   Википедия

  • List of English words with disputed usage — Some English words are often used in ways that are contentious between writers on usage and prescriptive commentators. The contentious usages are especially common in spoken English. While in some circles the usages below may make the speaker… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.