I'm not convinced. I was always taught to keep away from it and not play with it.
Did a Google search just to see if science had changed its mind. They seem to be saying the vapor is the risk, and it evaporates at room temperature...quite a remarkable element.
Quicksilver (liquid metallic mercury) is poorly absorbed by ingestion and skin contact. It is hazardous due to its potential to release mercury vapor. Animal data indicate less than 0.01% of ingested mercury is absorbed through the intact gastrointestinal tract, though it may not be true for individuals suffering from ileus. Cases of systemic toxicity from accidental swallowing are rare, and attempted suicide via intravenous injection does not appear to result in systemic toxicity. Though not studied quantitatively, the physical properties of liquid elemental mercury limit its absorption through intact skin and in light of its very low absorption rate from the gastrointestinal tract, skin absorption would not be high. Some mercury vapor is absorbed dermally, but uptake by this route is only about 1% of that by inhalation.
In humans, approximately 80% of inhaled mercury vapor is absorbed via the respiratory tract, where it enters the circulatory system and is distributed throughout the body. Chronic exposure by inhalation, even at low concentrations in the range 0.7–42 μg/m3, has been shown in case control studies to cause effects such as tremors, impaired cognitive skills, and sleep disturbance in workers.
Acute inhalation of high concentrations causes a wide variety of cognitive, personality, sensory, and motor disturbances. The most prominent symptoms include tremors (initially affecting the hands and sometimes spreading to other parts of the body), emotional lability (characterized by irritability, excessive shyness, confidence loss, and nervousness), insomnia, memory loss, neuromuscular changes (weakness, muscle atrophy, muscle twitching), headaches, polyneuropathy (paresthesia, stocking-glove sensory loss, hyperactive tendon reflexes, slowed sensory and motor nerve conduction velocities), and performance deficits in tests of cognitive function.
Elemental mercury evaporates at room temperature and reacts with many elements to form salts, amalgams, and organo-mercury compounds. A number of these compounds are considered “highly hazardous” by the US EPA (P list) All mercury containing waste is considered hazardous and requires special disposal considerations.
Mercury is a liquid metal that is environmentally persistent and bioaccumulates in the food chain.