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(918 words)

Author(s): Weitensfelder, Hubert
Shining, silvery mercury, or quicksilver, is the only metal that is liquid at room temperature. The rather rare element is usually obtained from cinnabar or cinnabarite (mercury[II] sulfide, HgS). Viable mineral deposits are few: the mine at Almadén in the Spanish region of Ciudad Real alone supplied almost half of all the mercury ever mined, followed by that at Idria in the former Habsburg Carniola (now Idrija, Slovenia), which provided around 13% from 1493. The largest German reserve, at Obermoschel in the Rhenish Palatinate, was far less significant.Alloyed with other met…
Date: 2019-10-14


(877 words)

Author(s): Weitensfelder, Hubert
The element arsenic (As) belongs to Group 15 (old notation: Group V) of the Periodic Table (pnictogens). While elemental arsenic itself seems not to be toxic, arsenic compounds usually contain arsenic trioxide (As2O3), which is the most powerful metallic poison.Traces of arsenic, which occurs as abundantly as tin, can be found almost everywhere, e.g. in igneous rock, volcanic sulfur, coal, seawater, and mineral water. The most important arsenic minerals are arsenopyrite (mispickel), loellingite, orpiment, and realgar. Arsenic gene…
Date: 2019-10-14

Environmental toxins

(3,019 words)

Author(s): Weitensfelder, Hubert | Gadebusch-Bondio, Mariacarla
1. Concept Environmental toxins and their transformation products change the nature of soil, water, air, and climate in such a way that danger may arise, immediately or at a later date, for humans, plants, animals, or microorganisms. Since industrialization, the concept has primarily applied to those harmful substances that are used, processed, or produced in industry, industrial trades and crafts, crafts, and agriculture.Hubert Weitensfelder 2. Mining and smelting Early modern toxins included several metals and their compounds (Arsenic; Lead; Mercury; Sul…
Date: 2019-10-14


(1,686 words)

Author(s): Kraschewski, Hans-Joachim | Weitensfelder, Hubert
1. Mining and smeltingCompared with copper and iron, the most important - because most frequently used - non-precious metals of the early modern period, lead was a metal of lesser rank. With low production costs and a consequently favorable market price, it served as a malleable material for specialist artisans (Crafts and trades), such as glassmakers, organ-builders, and printers (typesetting). The early modern building trade used it, for instance, as a roofing material, for making pipes, and for …
Date: 2019-10-14