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|Molar mass||229.65 g/mol|
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
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Ethylmercury (sometimes ethyl mercury) is a cation composed of an ethyl group bound to a mercury(II) centre; its chemical formula is C2H5Hg+. Ethylmercury is sometimes used as a generic term to describe organomercury compounds which include ethylmercury such as ethylmercury chloride and ethylmercury urea.
Ethylmercury is one of the metabolites of thiomersal, which is used as a preservative in some vaccines. Thiomersal is the ethylmercury-releasing compound sodium ethylmercuric thiosalicylate, C9H9HgNaO2S.
The toxicity of ethylmercury is not well studied although studies have shown rats treated with Thimerosal were found to have three types of mercury in blood samples and organs, ethylmercury, methylmercury and inorganic mercury that were not found in the control group. Based on the published findings in the three groups of rats, the metabolic pathway for organic mercury involves the conversion of ethylmercury into methylmercury and then the further reduction to inorganic mercury. A similar metabolic process has been observed in human infants. Unlike methylmercury, ethylmercury has not been found to bioaccumulate. Exposure standards based on methylmercury (such as those currently recommended by the United States Environmental Protection Agency) have not been demonstrated to be equivalent for ethylmercury. Ethylmercury clears from blood with a half-life of seven to 10 days in adults. Ethylmercury is eliminated from the brain in about 14 days in infant monkeys. Risk assessment for effects on the nervous system have been made by extrapolating from dose-response relationships for methylmercury. Methylmercury and ethylmercury distribute to all body tissues, crossing the blood–brain barrier and the placental barrier, and ethylmercury also moves freely throughout the body. Concerns based on extrapolations from methylmercury caused thimerosal to be removed from U.S. childhood vaccines, starting in 1999. Since then, it has been found that ethylmercury is eliminated from the body and the brain significantly faster than methylmercury, so the late-1990s risk assessments appear to be overly conservative. Though inorganic mercury metabolized from ethylmercury has a much longer half-life in the brain, at least 120 days, it appears to be much less toxic than the inorganic mercury produced from mercury vapor, for reasons not yet understood.
- "Thimerosal in vaccines". Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 2008-06-03. Retrieved 2008-07-25.
- Rodriques JL, Serpeloni JM, Batista BL, Souza S, Barbosa Jr F. Identification and distribution of mercury species in rat tissues following administration of Thimerosal or methyl mercury. Arch Toxicol 2010; 84: 891-896. 
- Pichichero ME, Gentile A, Giglio N, Umido V, Clarkson T, Cernichiari E, Zareba G, Gotelli C, Gotelli M, Yan L, and Treanor J. (2008) Mercury Levels in Newborns and Infants After Receipt of Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines. Pediatrics 2008; 121(2): e208-e214.
- NIAID Research on Thimerosal Archived April 27, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
- Comparison of Blood and Brain Mercury Levels in Infant Monkeys Exposed to Methylmercury or Vaccines Containing Thimerosal. Environmental Health Perspectives 113(8):1015–1021; 2005.
- Clifton II, Jack C. (2007-04-01). "Mercury Exposure and Public Health". Pediatric Clinics of North America. Children's Health and the Environment: Part II. 54 (2): 237.e1–237.e45. doi:10.1016/j.pcl.2007.02.005.
- Clarkson TW, Magos L (2006). "The toxicology of mercury and its chemical compounds". Crit Rev Toxicol. 36 (8): 609–62. doi:10.1080/10408440600845619. PMID 16973445.
- Clarkson TW, Vyas JB, Ballatori N (2007). "Mechanisms of mercury disposition in the body". Am J Ind Med. 50 (10): 757–64. doi:10.1002/ajim.20476. PMID 17477364.
- ATSDR - ToxFAQs: Mercury
- ATSDR - Public Health Statement: Mercury
- ATSDR - ALERT! Patterns of Metallic Mercury Exposure, 6/26/97
- ATSDR - MMG: Mercury
- ATSDR - Toxicological Profile: Mercury
- National Pollutant Inventory - Mercury and compounds Fact Sheet
- Anapsid.org - 'Common Sources of Ethylmercury: Products containing ethyl mercury thiosalicylic acid as a preservative', compiled by Melissa Kaplan