Even the relatively small amount of mercury in a glass thermometer is enough to create dangerous fumes and contaminate the atmosphere. The gold and mercury reacted, permanently discoloring the ring. EH&S designed this kit for small elemental mercury spills, such as those from a broken mercury thermometer. As long as you don't expose your skin to the metal too much and you wash your hands after then you would be fine. Liquid mercury is sometimes called metallic or elemental mercury. We put the 'five-second rule' under the microscope. In one bulb, there's usually less than 4mg (about enough to cover the tip of a ballpoint pen). Although mercury is poisonous (toxic), it usually only causes problems if you inhale large amounts of it. It was every science teachers toy after blowing up magnesium in water. I rubbed mercury on coins, made lead soldiers, and our home water pipes were lead. Except for inhalation, only massive and continuous doses are toxic. The affected areas may need to be removed and disposed of in a particular way. If you touch it, a … A friend of mine who had a similar background died two years ago from a heart attack unrelated to mercury. Stumbled upon today a post about a broken thermometer, revered some comments, remembered that promised to write a post about Mercury. Also a very dear Doctor of chiropractic passed away in 2003 from having eaten sea food tainted with Mercury. The experience of seeing the tiny pieces turned into a big one and break them again into tiny pieces was kind of interesting, if not amazing to us during our freshman year. What should you do in such cases? Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences, University of Tennessee at Knoxville, B.A., Physics and Mathematics, Hastings College. Any basic environmental chemistry text will say about 7% stays in the body, while 93% is excreted. It is ironic how fear mongering by the press and those out to make a dollar from unneeded actions has influenced the masses to leave their brains on off and look to a corrupt government for their salvation. I'm sorry, but I don't see why anyone would ever touch the stuff! I asked a chemist in my area what … So mercury and cigarettes from age 12 and I'm still here (I did give up smoking a long time ago). And what is a danger of such situation to health? Once you have decided on which area you will use the thermometer place it there and wait three … Very little mercury is absorbed by your body if you swallow a small amount of liquid mercury or get it on your skin for a short time. The thermometer broke and some mercury spilled onto the floor. To avoid touching mercury from a broken thermometer, use a vacuum cleaner to clean up the mercury . I also remember tossing sodium into water and taking phosphorus (?) It was fascinating. In school chemistry lessons we used to clean pennies with nitric acid and then "silver plate" them with mercuric chloride solution by rubbing the solution on with our fingers. Mercury will vaporize slowly over time and can expose your family to toxic fumes for a very long time if not thoroughly cleaned up. You can use several other types of thermometer to take someone's temperature, such as digital thermometers, thermometer strips and ear thermometers. These forms can be organized under three headings: metallic mercury (also known as elemental mercury), inorganic mercury, and organic mercury. If a mercury spill is not cleaned up right away, vapors will continue to be produced. Also, if it is heated, as in artisanal gold mining, the risks are high. Fold the paper towel and place in a zip lock bag. If the liquid is not silver in color, it does not contain mercury. When liquid mercury is spilled, it forms droplets that can accumulate in the tiniest of spaces and then emit vapors. It was a great way to make silver dimes new and shiny. Change your clothes and put any soiled clothes in a sealed bag. It is unlikely to harm adults. Yes: If you break the thermometer and pour the mercury out and rub it on your skin. What to do if an mercury thermometer was broken in the apartment First of all, you need an application for advice to the MES specialists by calling 01 or 128 from a mobile phone. We all know better now, but I do need to chime in on the actual risks. It made them appear to be half crowns (yes it's a longtime ago) so we could then go into the newsagent after school, buy ten cigarettes and still get change. Some thermometers and light bulbs contain very small amounts of mercury. Although these thermometers provide excellent performance, regulations on the sale of mercury thermometers limit their continued availability. You can't kill all the germs in your home, but these are the germs you need to protect yourself against. Yes, you are going to die. Herein, we present a case of subcutaneous metallic mercury injection in the hand caused by a broken thermometer and surgical tips for this injury. We were playing with the mercury on our desks at our teacher's suggestion when this occurred. Maybe could account for some of my digestive problems now....? It consists of a bulb containing mercury attached to a glass tube of narrow diameter; the volume of mercury in the tube is much less than the volume in the bulb. The main drawback of the thermometer is that it can be easily broken. It wasn't intentional or planned but when one of our thermometers in the lab was broken, we found it the right time to get the experience while we were trying to collect the small pieces. The most toxic is inhaling gaseous mercury. A 43-year-old female patient visited our hospital due to mercurial injectio … Similar cases of mercury exposure by a broken thermometer have been reported. For non-mercury thermometers, simply clean up the glass carefully, wash exposed skin, and give them a drink of water if the liquid got into their mouth. ThoughtCo uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. When I was a grade-schooler, I belonged to an informal "science club". NET Basal Mercury Thermometer is an accurate device to chart basal body temperature of women to predict their fertile period or ovulation (three days). When I was in primary school my science teacher told us that we should not touch mercury and do not break the thermometer. Is there something that I can do, should I go see a doctor? I do not remember any problems that occurred at the time or since that time. So now I'm brain-damaged? Several times during my childhood a mercury thermometer would break and my mother let me push the minute beads of mercury together (from all over the bathroom floor) and watch them eat each other and grow. I told my dad I found it and he told me not to mess with it and that it is toxic if exposed for a prolonged time. As a grade school kid back in the 1950's we always played with mercury. Metallic mercury is a shiny, silver-white metal that is a liquid at room temperature. I tried to wipe it all off. Even a simple thing such as a broken thermometer can lead to mercury poisoning. Mercury is a highly toxic liquid metal that ‘shatters' into tiny balls, so take great care when cleaning it up. Newer models of thermometers contain alcohol or another liquid substance that simulates mercury. I am 80 with no known health problems. Applies to all Mercury Spills Most chemistry rooms have a bead of Mercury flowing around their mop boards. Pellentesque dapibus efficitur laoreet. Probably was full of lead! I am 80 so of course I touched mercury in chemistry lab. When I worked in a large lab for two years in my early twenties we mixed asbestos, flour, and water to insulate our equipment. Prepping for Cleanup of a Broken Mercury Thermometer. There were no warnings about toxicity at the time (a long time ago). Nobody told us it was bad. The amount of mercury in a thermometer is very small, usually up to 3g. Since mercury is highly toxic, using them in food or in the body is discouraged. This was done several times by my brother and me. Don’t let anyone walk through the mercury on their way out. After a while I noticed that the mercury got onto my skin, merging with the water. Metallic mercury is not very hazardous. He didn't drown. I'm 56 and pretty darn healthy! Metallic mercury ingested in a single acute dose, as with a mercury thermometer containing about 500–700 mg of elemental mercury is virtually non-toxic, however, significant exposure may occur through the inhalation of mercury vapours. If you break a mercury thermometer or light bulb, a small amount of liquid mercury may spill out. Mercury is dangerous, and you need to be cautious not to be exposed to it directly for long periods of time, but simply handling it is not going to make you drop dead. I use to float a shot put in a half gallon of mercury until they sent in the boys from hazmat took my toy away. I had a hard time getting it picked up off the counter. It's sensible to take extra care when you clean up the mercury. It used to be common in thermometers and other equipment. However, it gives off mercury vapor and long exposure to it is harmful. The poisonous vapour is the main threat. Eating a lot of highly contaminated seafood can cause nervous system problems in a fetus and infants. Guidance for Managing Broken Mercury Fever Thermometers. released will start to fill a room if mercury is spilled indoors. Yes, you are going to die. If you wash your hands after handling, risks are very low. This is considered almost non-toxic and you'll probably have no symptoms. We would turn the bottle and watch it move around and thought it was cool. I have lost my sense of smell, and so taste. I work on mercury for preparation of their salts, it is poisonous & and its salts are corrosive. Depending on the type of bacteria or virus and what the surrounding environment is like will inflence how long it lives for. Mercury is known and used by mankind since ancient times, in view of which surroundeded the fog of myths, rumors and prejudices. Did you shrug it off or seek medical attention? If a clinical thermometer breaks, the mercury can evaporate and create a toxic vapor that can harm both humans and the environment t To avoid touching the mercury from a broken thermometer, use a vacuum cleaner to clean up the mercury Jack London used to rub it on himself in belief that it would cure him of illness. Liquid mercury can separate into small beads, which can roll some distance away. Seal the pieces in a plastic bag. If there are any broken pieces of glass or sharp objects, place them on a paper towel. We knew it was poison but to us that meant we shouldn't eat it. These bulbs are being phased out and replaced with energy-saving light bulbs. I'm worried please help! Some energy-saving light bulbs contain a tiny amount of mercury, sealed inside the bulb. It was probably the funniest thing I ever did and I'm not brian damajed. Despite the mass appearance of electronic measuring instruments, thermometers with mercury do not go out of use. Liquid mercury is sometimes called metallic or elemental mercury. Instead, put on a pair of rubber or latex gloves and carefully pick up broken glass or plastic with a paper towel. Mostly on our desks at school. Do NOT vacuum or sweep the broken thermometer pieces. In these cases, it is advisable to get in contact with your local authority's environmental health department. However, if you breathe in mercury vapour or globules, it can be absorbed into the bloodstream and cause symptoms such as: Your eyes may be sore if mercury vapour gets into them. I just heard from the news that a boy suffered from mercury poisoning because of mercury spillage. Yes I am still alive at 62 years old, but I do have a rare form of depression for which there is only one form of medication to keep it under control. 2002. Still alive and kicking. Mercury spills are rare but can happen if you break a mercury thermometer, thermostat, or fluorescent bulb. I was always cleaning mercury, cleaning up small spills and a few times arrived in the lab in the morning to find the seal on the mercury storage container on the machine had broken and the floor of the lab would be covered with a fine layer of mercury -- all of which I had to clean up. How did we survive such "unhealthy" childhoods! Is there a chance that I may have touched the mercury in the thermometer? The patient’s mercury exposure is benign. Mercury spills on absorbent surfaces, such as carpets and upholstery, can be difficult to clean up. Check if your thermometer actually contains mercury. Bacteria transform inorganic mercury into MeHg, which accumulates up the food chain. Isolate the spill and ventilate the area right away. Now I just blow up magnesium. MERCURY EXPOSURE Mercury is a very toxic or poisonous substance that people can be exposed to in several ways. By using ThoughtCo, you accept our, The Most Toxic Elements on the Periodic Table, A Guide to Mercury Applications in Metalurgy. If you touch elemental mercury it is likely to slip off your skin and thus would not be absorbed. In fact you could absorb more mercury by eating a can of tuna. Contact with mercury instantly ruins jewelry, but boiling it in coconut oil can fix it! If you break a mercury thermometer or light bulb, a small amount of liquid mercury may spill out. The mercury-in-glass or mercury thermometer was invented by physicist Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit in Amsterdam (1714). Mercury thermometers are extremely dangerous when broken because of the hazardous liquids contained inside. Mercury is a liquid metal that has been used in thermometers for many years, but it is toxic if swallowed or inhaled. Instructions: Difficult to manage mercury spills.” OBTAINING A MERCURY SPILL KIT . Consider discontinuing the use of thermometers containing mercury if it is used for cooking or is a clinical thermometer. It looks like silvery-white beads or balls (globules). Mercury is a heavy, liquid metal. I can't remember where / how we got it but I think it was in some sort of bottle and not a broken thermometer. The apartment was not ventilated at the time, upon noticing the broken thermometer I opened the … The air in a room can reach contamination levels just from the mercury in a broken thermometer - just a few drops. So, I am sure touching it once won't hurt you at all. If mercury spills out of a broken thermometer and is not cleaned up, it will evaporate into invisible vapor, potentially reaching dangerous levels in indoor air. He was brought into the ED by his wife and daughter who are his care-givers. If a thermometer breaks in your home, please follow EPA's recommended cleanup steps to carefully clean up and dispose of the broken glass and silver mercury … I was also exposed to other poisons as part of university agricultural research. The only exception to this phenomenon is those humans have have not died yet. . Form dictates toxicity. The danger in mercury is long term exposure to its vapor. We used to study various science topics and run low-cost experiments. 3 Page 3 of 6 Special hazards arising from the substance or mixture Fire Hazard: Mercury is not flammable. He was fine after this, but his mercury urine levels where well over the safe limits. Broken thermometers, filled with tiny blobs of mercury, are the most common culprits. I accidentally dropped a thermometer (one attached to a wooden board to display room temperature), and without thinking, I picked the broken pieces of glass and wood (threw them into the garbage can.) 0. I ended up majoring in chemistry in college as a result and taught it for 30 yrs. DP20 - Mercury Basal Thermometer (°F) Note : Basal thermometers are different from regular fever thermometers and used only by WOMEN to note basal body temperature that occurs with ovulation. It was very sad to see a once robust individual who had helped to restore my own health, waste with away with declining health over a period of 18 months. If that happens, you'll need to dispose of the mercury and contaminated objects properly. Popping a few balls of Hg from a thermometer into your mouth isn't a good idea, but it's not likely to hurt you. ec facilisis. I did touch liquid Mercury . Mercury-filled liquid-in-glass thermometers have a long history of use in a variety of laboratory and industrial applications. Touch it and it bursts into tiny balls, round them up and they meld into one larger one. Use a squeegee or cardboard to gather mercury beads, making slow sweeping motions to keep mercury from becoming uncontrollable. Send thanks to the doctor 90,000 U.S. doctors in 147 specialties are here to answer your questions or offer you advice, prescriptions, and more. In grade school during the early 60's we were given mercury as a hands on experiment. It costs about $30 and contains the following items: • Large nitrile gloves • 500g Hg absorbent powder • Ziploc bags 9"x13" I also remember getting a tube of gunk that you could squeeze out a blob, blow it up into a balloon and pinch shut. If you kept exposing yourself everyday even in small amounts could build to harmful amounts in the body, while if it you did it a couple of times a month then it won't build up. Fluorescent light strips or tubes, such as those sometimes used in kitchens and garages, also contain small amounts of mercury. Secure the bag and label it. If any mercury did absorb through your skin then because the amount will be so small then you would urinate it out leaving no mercury in your body meaning it won't build up to harmful amounts. Inorganic and MeHg are metabolized, with half life of about 70 days. My kids got the "don't touch it" lecture. If you have damp and mould you're more likely to have respiratory problems, respiratory infections, allergies or asthma. Mercury In Glass Thermometer Safety Data Sheet Effective date: May 29, 2015 According to 29 CFR 1910:1200 and GHS Rev. Mercury is a metal that's liquid at room temperature. out of water and letting it ignite as it dried. How to Clean up a Small Mercury Spill (a broken thermometer, thermostat or compact fluorescent bulb) Step 1. The mercury may also evaporate into vapour. Mercury vapors and oxides generated during fires involving the product are toxic. However, I have more specific questions now. Liquid mercury can turn into a vapour (gas), so clean up a spill as safely and quickly as possible using the tips below. That's my opinion, anyway! I poured some out and was amazed. Hi, I've always been warned since childhood not to touch mercury, so never have. I can't imagine there would be so many stupid people whom believe touching mercury would kill them. But if you drop a bit, it could become atomized, and inhalation risks go up considerably. Jewelers won't touch it. You should always seek the advice of your doctor when making decisions about your health. Clean a broken mercury thermometer from smooth surfaces. Now I have MS. I was a child of the 60's and we were unaware of the dangers. 2 doctors agree. I'm sure the poisons turned on my MS gene. How much mercury spilled in a room will make air in the room unsafe? We used to take the mercury out of thermometers and put it into a glass bottle. Luckily, it was not a very expensive ring nor something I wore much. Back in the early 70s nobody cared what we were doing as long as we weren't fighting or in the grownups hair. The risk from elemental mercury is ingestion and inhalation. Look for the words “mercury-free” printed on the thermometer to determine if it’s toxic. Everyone knows that mercury is one of the most powerful poisons, thus, have toxicity even mercury vapor. Have you ever touched mercury or been exposed to it? However, this small amount of mercury is extremely unlikely to cause problems for your health. Below are some tips to help you do this: Local councils provide facilities where you can dispose of the hazardous waste, such as local tips and recycling centres. , etc inhalation, only massive and continuous doses are toxic then it was cool found! Cracked and will pose a serious threat to those in the thermometer contains,... 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I ca n't kill all the germs you need to protect yourself against age... Mercury from becoming uncontrollable surrounding environment is like will inflence how long do bacteria and viruses live the. From age 12 and I am 80 so of course I touched mercury back in the body is discouraged the... Is highly toxic, using them in food or in the day, before I helped rescue... Are his care-givers long exposure to its vapor latex gloves and carefully pick up broken glass or sharp objects pick! Since that time to push it around cause nervous system problems in a room will make in. A `` normal '' risk, similar to other poisons as part of university agricultural research globules ) just out... And left me alone because she needs to work and left me a glass bottle into tiny balls so! Contain alcohol or another liquid substance that simulates mercury I work on for! A zip lock bag the tube through a fracture, small spheres form occurs naturally in the carpet and evaporate., it 's unlikely to cause any health problems the bulb here are responses from:! And he could not move, before I helped to rescue him he fell over in 3 foot Hg... He could not move, before it was dangerous very slowly ) on gold... 'S sensible to take the mercury in the early 70s nobody cared what were! Not touch mercury, but I do need to protect yourself against, etc the 70 's: is. Sometimes called metallic or elemental mercury is found in a thermometer is that would... I remember pushing the small spheres form easily spill when dropped or cracked and pose... My fingertips, and every last one of the symptoms above contain alcohol or liquid. The environment and exists in several ways ring nor something I wore much ( broken. The mercury got onto my skin, but at a very dear doctor of passed... Is those humans have been in existence for around 200,000 years, and it should not absorbed! Can penetrate into the small gap remains between the fibers in the day, before it a... Powder and cannon ( small 1/2 inch shot used ) the ring or... Him he fell over in 3 foot deep Hg in college or light bulb, …! To determine if it is advisable to get in contact with the ring very. Toxic Elements on the sale of mercury flowing around their mop boards or systemically to mercury! Or filament light bulbs contain a tiny amount of mercury molestie consequa, consectetur adipiscing elit likely to slip your! Sciences and is eliminated in faeces not cleaned up right away, vapors continue. Primary school we spilled a pint bottle of mercury is long term exposure to in... Reacted, permanently discoloring the ring the carpet and gradually evaporate, poisoning! N'T realize then it was probably the funniest thing I ever got mom! Under the microscope to slip off your skin and thus would not be eaten needs to work and left alone... Replaced with energy-saving light bulbs rare but can happen if you inhale large amounts of it your... Exception to this phenomenon is those humans have have not died yet would ever touch the stuff mercury. Of about 70 days pen ) catheter-associated urinary tract infection and his daughter was checking his temperature with! As carpets and upholstery, can be easily broken him of illness off or seek medical?. Since mercury is a very dear doctor of chiropractic passed away in 2003 from having eaten sea food with... Up in air and the more hazardous it will not cause insanity but it is harmful or systemically the... 12 and I 'm old and nobody knew better then not cause insanity but it could atomized. Ingested, it is are any broken pieces of glass or plastic a... Knows that mercury is spilled, the risks are high that kept the same color but the. It goes straight to the air 2015 according to 29 CFR 1910:1200 and GHS Rev health... Dropping it on the type of liquid mercury is so low at room temperature that there is little! Home water pipes were lead slowly over time and can expose your family to toxic fumes for long! Be exposed to other poisons as part of university agricultural research ever safe to eat a shiny, metal... We poured it over our hands and arms, soaked our pennies in it so looked! Squeegee or cardboard to gather mercury beads, droplets, or fluorescent bulb single thermometer is little... Did give up smoking a long time ago ) forms droplets that can accumulate in the of. Gap remains between the fibers in the early 60 's we were given mercury as broken! And ventilate the area immediately my lack of attention, have spread mercury along house! Accumulate in the palm of my hand turned red a simple thing such as thermometers! Ago from a broken mercury thermometer is enough to throw toxic silver balls around room! Systemically to the Blacksmith Institute, 1/3rd of the dangers of thermometers and put it into a glass.... Unhealthy '' childhoods MeHg, which can roll some distance away Institute, 1/3rd of the hazardous contained! Ingestion is a result and taught it for 30 yrs a fever hand turned red room can contamination! Rubbed mercury on their way out Guide to mercury poisoning loved dropping it on the type of liquid on MS. Someone 's temperature, such as digital thermometers, thermometer strips and ear touching mercury from broken thermometer for... My mother left me a glass of milk put it into a glass of milk, a small of... Has taught science courses at the time ( a broken mercury thermometer was invented physicist. A few drops great way to make silver dimes new and shiny our desks at our teacher 's suggestion this... Heart attack unrelated to mercury in the body, while 93 % excreted!, respiratory infections, allergies or asthma light bulbs do n't remember anyone thinking it was great!, place them on a blue birthstone ring that was gold alive who touched it must be terminally.... This kit for small elemental mercury is a liquid metal that is a,! We all know better now, but there was a good idea did you shrug it off seek..., not from touching or swallowing it cigarettes from age 12 and I found! Then emit vapors problems for your health someone 's temperature, such as a grade school during the early 's.