Safe Mercury cleanup is important.Mercury can be found in a variety of household items. When liquid is spilled, it forms droplets that can accumulate in the tiniest places; these droplets can emit vapors into the air that we cannot see or smell. Mercury vapor in the air can be very toxic. Families have been poisoned from mercury spills in the home which have not been properly cleaned up. Children are at highest risk.
The small amount of mercury in fever thermometers, thermostats and fluorescent bulbs is not likely to cause serious health problems, but it should be cleaned up.
When a Mercury spill occurs, NEVER do this:NEVER use an ordinary vacuum or shop vacuum to clean up mercury. The vacuum will put mercury vapor into the air and increase the likelihood of human exposure. the vacuum cleaner will be contaminated and have to be disposed of properly with the spilled mercury.
NEVER use a broom or a paint brush to clean up mercury. It will break up the mercury into smaller beads and spread them around
NEVER pour or allow mercury to go down a drain.
NEVER allow people whose shoes or clothing may be contaminated with mercury to walk around.
Items you will need to clean up a small spill
- rubber squeegee
- plastic dust pan
- zinc or copper flakes
- plastic wrap
- plastic trash bags
- zipper shut plastic bags
- large tray or box
- index cards, playing cards, or other disposable heavy paper
- facial tissues, toilet paper or paper towels
- eye dropper
- plastic container with tight lid
- sulfur powder
Steps to take before cleaning up a spill:
- Contain the spill. Dike mercury (using rags or other disposable items) to prevent spreading. Divert from drains, cracks and crevices.
- Keep children and others away from spill area to prevent the spread of contamination.
- Close doors to other indoor areas. Immediately ventilate spill area-open doors, windows, use fans that exhaust to outdoors. Keep air flowing through room with mercury spill - but make sure it is ventilating outside.
- Turn off heating, ventilating or air conditioning systems that circulate air from the spill area to other parts of the house.
- If you or any other person have come in contact with the mercury stay in the area to avoid spreading contamination. Put contaminated clothing/shoes into trash bag, wipe off any visible mercury beads into the bag, then shampoo and shower well after cleanup is complete.
Clean up methods:
ANYTHING which comes in contact with mercury should be disposed of!!!
- Push small mercury beads together with a card, stiff paper or squeegee to form larger droplets and push them into a plastic dust pan or use an eye dropper to pick up the balls of mercury. Collect all mercury into a leak-tight plastic bag or wide-mouth sealable plastic container.
- Work from the outside of the spill area toward the center. Work over a tray or box that is lined or covered with plastic wrap when pouring mercury. Mercury's high density and smoothness cause it to roll fast.
- Use a flashlight to look all around in the areas of the spill. The light will reflect off the shiny mercury beads and make it easier to see them.
- Sprinkle sulfur powder on the spill area after cleaning up beads of mercury; a color change from yellow to brown indicates that mercury is still present and more cleanup is needed.
- Sprinkle zinc flakes or copper flakes (available at hardware stores) to amalgamate any small amounts of mercury which remain.