Amazon Gold Part V: Elemental Mercury. The only metal that is liquid at room temperature. This stuff looks like something from Terminator or The Matrix. It has a supernatural quality to it. Both in the way it looks, and in how bad it is for us to be around. It affects the central nervous system and even brief exposure to it can damage your brain, liver, blood, kidneys, vision, and there are a number of psychological symptoms that apply to people who have been exposed to it over long periods of time. .
One article I read cautioned how if you drop mercury in your home it can break into smaller parts, and take up in cracks and carpets - and over time evaporate into the air, filling your house with poison. Another article said: "If a person exposed to mercury stops breathing, use a bag and mask to give them air, but don't perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, since this contaminates the rescuer, too."
The miners that @tbfrost and I lived with had no hang-ups about handling mercury. They thought it was comical how scared of it we were. They handled it freely, just as they have for years. Sloshing it in and out of the sediment, using it, and then gathering it up again to be used another day. We were shocked at they way they handled the stuff - but were horrified when the time came for them to burn off the mercury with a blow torch. No masks. Open air. No clue how bad it was for them. .
This is my blurry picture of the moment the gold and mercury is gathered into a cloth, and wrung dry. Moments later that water was dumped into the river.