It’s found in our mouths, in the food we eat and even in the light bulbs hanging in our homes.
But how much do we know about mercury and its toxicity?
A free event taking place in Aberdeen on Wednesday (September 18) will explore the element’s place in our daily lives, and the science behind how we measure its levels.
Dr Eva Krupp from the institution’s School of Biological Sciences will discuss the importance of knowing how much mercury we are coming into contact with at Waterstones Union Bridge branch at 7pm.
The event is part of the University’s Café Scientifique series, which offers the public a chance to learn more about, and discuss, topical science.
Dr Krupp said: “Mercury is everywhere – from the fillings in our teeth to the energy saving light bulbs that we use in our houses. A certain level of mercury in our environment is safe, but when it exceeds this level we need to be cautious – the European Union has for example a limitation on the amount that is acceptable in the fish we eat.
“My research focusses on how we measure levels of mercury using isotopes – a term which describes atoms within elements that have the same chemistry but have different weights.
“One of the earliest atomic scientists, Frederick Soddy discovered isotopes and in the last 15 years we have been applying this understanding of differing atom weights of the same element, to how we understand levels of mercury toxicity.
“My talk will give an insight into this science and the importance of measuring mercury precisely.”
Dr Krupp’s talk – Mouthful of Mercury – Should We Worry? – is free to attend and advance booking is not required. For more information visit: www.engagingaberdeen.co.uk.
It takes place as part of the University’s programme of events celebrating this year’s TechFest in Aberdeen festival - for more information visit www.abdn.ac.uk/engage/techfest.
Other highlights include an energy-packed show by popular TV scientist Dr Marty Jopson investigating Isaac Newton’s ideas on gravity, lectures exploring diverse topics including the technology allowing us to understand more about birds roaming our countryside, and create conversations between computers and humans, and a host of family events designed to engage children with science.
For the full programme of events taking place as part of TechFest in September visit http://www.techfestsetpoint.org.uk/tis/