What to Do If Liquid Mercury Containers Break

Filed under: Uncategorized - 15 Jun 2012  | Spread the word !

Liquid mercury is the only liquid metal at standard temperature and room conditions and many assume that it cannot be dangerous for their health. However, it can lead to severe poisoning which has both short and long term effects on people’s health. This is why it would be best for mercury to be kept contained. Handling mercury does not pose any risk if it is encapsulated and enclosed, so make sure that all the possible mercury sources in your homes are enclosed and do not have any leakages. If you break a container by accident and the mercury falls out, you should know some practical tips on how to handle it. You need to keep calm, since mercury will most likely break up into many small droplets and roll away into many areas.

The first thing you need to do is make sure that all people and pets are removed from the area. Pets and children are likely to be lured to the balls formed, so you do not want them to inhale the mercury, nor to distract you from cleaning up. You should also remove any jewelry and then put on a pair of gloves that will help you retrieve the mercury droplets without them coming in contact with your skin. Then, you should try to recover as much as possible by using a stiff piece of paper or an eye dropper in order to scoop up the droplets. You can also use a paper towel or wet wipe. The remaining droplets can be picked up with a sticky tape. After “collecting” them, it is important to place the droplets together with the cleaning items you have used in a sealable plastic bag.

You should then double bag it, label it so that no one touches it, and dispose it properly by calling local authorities to find out where toxic waste is being disposed in your area. Placing it in the usual garbage bag is not a good idea. It is very important to remember never to use a vacuum cleaner or broom to clean liquid mercury when it spills. Also, if the mercury containers breaks and the metal falls on the carpet, you should cut out the piece of carpet and dispose it in a double plastic bag, as well. It is better to get a new carpet than to jeopardize your health and the health of the ones living with you.

Identifying Liquid Mercury in Your Home

Filed under: Mercury - 06 Jun 2012  | Spread the word !

Mercury is a curious chemical element, being particularly interesting due to the fact that it is the only metal that is liquid at standard conditions for pressure and temperature. This metal is used in a wide array of settings, especially thermometers, barometers, float valves, manometers, mercury switches, sphygmomanometers, and other devices. With the development in technology, most people nowadays use electronic thermometers instead of the ones based on mercury. However, the sources of liquid mercury in people’s homes are multiple and diverse. As this metal can lead to serious poisoning, it is important to know how to identify it in your home. Mercury is a liquid metal that has a shiny, silvery appearance, being highly reflective.

Being exposed to large mercury doses for an extensive period of time can affect the nervous system and kidneys. Exposure to mercury can also lead to anxiety, depression, memory problems and poor coordination. In people’s homes, mercury is found in a liquid state, since it melts at temperatures of above -38 Celsius degrees. The first thing you need to do is inspect products in your home that either have or are likely to have mercury in them. Check items such as fluorescent light bulbs, electrical switches (such as thermostats controlling heating and air conditioning), thermometers, and float switches. There is also the chance of batteries containing mercury, so make sure you check them, as well. Mercury can also be found in paintings, inks, and antiques such as barometers, grandfather clocks, aircraft calibration tools, and old medical equipment. It is also important to locate fluorescent lights, since all fluorescent lamps use a small amount of mercury.

You could also find liquid mercury in drugs and cosmetics, so make sure you read the labels and prospects thoroughly. If you wonder how can you know whether the aforementioned items contain mercury, contact the manufacturer and ask for advice. You could also ask your dentist, since numerous dentists used this metal to make silver dental fillings in the past. Last, but not least, it is very important to check your food sources. Methylmercury, which is formed as a result of bacteria in water converting mercury, is very dangerous and can be found in fish. It can also be ingested through eating contaminated fish or seafood, so make sure you keep an eye out, because it is very toxic. Now that you know how can you identify liquid mercury in your home, you’d better start looking!