How To Clean Up Small Mercury Spills In Your Home

Filed under: Learn More - 30 Jul 2012  | Spread the word !

Mercury is very useful for a lot of things, but at the same time, it’s very toxic to the human nervous system. This happens because mercury vapours are fast absorbed through the lungs into the bloodstream. People are confronted with mercury exposure when mercury products such as fluorescent lamps or thermometers are broken in their home.

Even if many of them still have such devices in their home, they don’t know what to do in case an accident happens as even a very small amount of liquid mercury can be very harmful to their health. Additionally, this substance is very dangerous as from only a single small spill, mercury vapours can linger in very high concentrations in the air.

 


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There are special recommendations in case mercury spill takes place, but there are also cases when people have to call for professional assistance. Professional assistance is necessary when larger amounts of mercury are widely dispersed in the room, on a porous surface such as a carpet, but also when people have no idea what to do when something like this happens.

To clean up small liquid mercury spills, people have to:

  • evacuate the spill area and be sure that people that were in the room where the spill took place, don’t have mercury droplets on their shoes, clothing or on something else; in case this has happened, people should remove the items and put them in a plastic bag
  • turn down the thermostat in order to lower the temperature because if the temperature is cooler, less mercury vapours will be released in the air
  • turn off air conditioning or central ventilation because these could make the air circulate from the spill area to other parts of a home
  • close interior doors that lead to other rooms, ventilate the room where the spill took place to the outdoors; they can do that by opening only exterior doors and windows or by placing fans facing out in open windows or doors to accelerate ventilation
  • use clean-up supplies such as latex or rubber gloves, garbage bags, damp paper towels, as well as tape, sealable plastic bags, cardboard, wide mouth plastic contained with a lid
  • remove all jewellery from their hands and wrists and dress up in shoes and clothes that can be easily and fast discarded if they are contaminated
  • keep the mercury from draining in the floor, cracks, crevices, porous surfaces; in this case, people can use duct tape to isolate the mercury droplets and confine them to a limited area where they are easier to clean up

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  • pick up all visible and larger mercury droplets using eyedroppers, stiff paper, as well as flash light to find more droplets, pieces of fabric or if the spill is severe, they should call for professional assistance
  • spread fine zinc powder or elemental sulfur powder on the spill site and then collect this powder with a moist paper
  • everything they have used to clean up the spill site have to be placed in sealed plastic containers or airtight, sealable

 


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After they have done all these very important things, people still have to ventilate, wash their animals, humans that were in that area have to also wash, replace mercury devices with non-mercury ones, but never replace mercury contaminated fabrics in a washing machine or dryer.

Main Properties Of Liquid Mercury

Filed under: Learn More - 17 Jul 2012  | Spread the word !

Mercury is one of the most fascinating chemical elements and that is the main reason why you should learn more about it. Knowing about its main properties is a suitable way of learning new things, as they are the ones which can influence a lot of aspects in the usage of liquid mercury and in its general aspects. The symbol for mercury is HG and its atomic number is 80. It is a transition metal, part of the 12th group, in the 6th period, in the d-block. Mercury is unique, due to the fact that it is the only metal which, in standard conditions for temperature and pressure, is liquid.


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Main properties:

  • freezing point at -38.83 °C and boiling point at 356.73 °C;
  • mostly occurs as cinnabar (mercuric sulfide);
  • usage: thermometers, manometers, barometers, float vales, mercury switches, sphygmomanometers.

Physical properties:

  • color: silvery-white;
  • conductor: heat-poor, electricity-good;
  • odorless, heavy, mobile;
  • low melting temperature. 

Chemical properties:

  • does not react with acids;
  • oxidizing acids (sulfuric acid, nitric acid, aqua regia) can dissolve it;
  • reacts with hydrogen sulfide;
  • it has 12 isotopes;
  • forms amalgams with gold, zinc and other metals by dissolving.


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To learn even more about liquid mercury and about its properties:

Why Is Mercury Liquid?

Filed under: Learn More - 03 Jul 2012  | Spread the word !

If you are interested in learning more about one of the most interesting metals that exist, welcome to our website. This is the perfect place to read more and to understand better this fascinating element called mercury. It is a chemical element which uses Hg as a symbol and has 80 as its atomic number. Although it is a metal, mercury is liquid in the standard conditions of temperature. This metal can be found in deposits known as cinnabar, which are highly toxic. If cinnabar dust is inhaled, mercury poisoning occurs. This also appears if a person is exposed to water-soluble forms of the metal or if the person inhales vapors. Of course, mercury is not only dangerous, but also useful. It is used on the production of float valves, barometers, manometers, mercury switches and thermometers. In the instruments where this is replaceable, it was often replaced with alcohol or galinstan in the last years, especially to avoid intoxication with liquid mercury. The metal is very useful in research and in dental restoration and is an important element used in lighting systems.

If you want to know why mercury is liquid and not solid, the explanation is quite simple and as long as you have a little bit of chemistry and physics knowledge, you will understand it completely. Mercury is not the best element when it comes about sharing electrons. Most of the metals have atoms that share valence electrons with other atoms, but this is not the case of this liquid metal. The electrons existing in the mercury are bound very tight to the nucleus, unlike those of other metals. The s electrons existing in mercury are very fast and they are close to the nucleus, but the relativistic effects they have make them seem massive and slow moving.

The binding between the mercury atoms is very weak. It is also important to know that mercury has a low melting point. When it comes about being used as an electrical conductor or as a thermal conductor, mercury is very poor. Because of the fact that it is mostly in the state of liquid mercury, the metal is not used in the same manner as most metals are. For amalgams, it is perfect and also in combination with noble gases. You should also know that it is rarely found freely in the nature and most often is extracted from a cinnabar.