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Mercury spillage

  1. Oct 8, 2004 #1

    chem_tr

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    Hello, I need advice about how to treat spilled mercury. A friend of mine is going to do an experiment about barometers, and she needs some mercury. I am worried about any accident. As you know, mercury vapors are very toxic for nervous system. Any advice is welcomed.
    I will immediately do a Google search as soon as I post this thread. Thank you.

    P.S. The Google searching gave me this info: "Use vacuum cleaner or sponge to suck off any spilled mercury. If it is spilled in a trace amount, just add some elemental sulfur onto it, and this will convert mercuric sulfide, a less harmful compound". Any suggestions?
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2004
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  3. Oct 8, 2004 #2

    movies

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    Don't use a vacuum. The air that the vacuum cleaner sucks up gets pushed out the back of the vacuum and I don't think that there is anything to prevent Hg vapor from coming out of the other end of the vacuum.

    The sulfur thing will work, but I think a better option is to use dry ice. If you take a piece of dry ice in some tongs and touch it to the mercury drop the mercury will freeze to the dry ice chunk. Then you can move the whole chunk to some other container that is in a safe area. Don't seal the container, as the dry ice will eventually sublime away. Once the dry ice is gone though you have the mercury nicely in a container without ever having to touch it. From there you can seal the container and dispose of it properly.
     
  4. Oct 8, 2004 #3

    Gokul43201

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    I've broken a thermometer once and spilled mercury on the floor. I just coalesced the tiny drops into a single blob, scooped it up with a piece of paper and put it in a bottle. I then called the University chemical disposal people, who took it away from me. :smile:

    I was wearing gloves while cleaning up the mess, but considering the small amount of Hg, I didn't bother about the vapor. I think I'm still quite sane. :wink:
     
  5. Oct 9, 2004 #4

    chem_tr

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    Thank you for your interest, I'll warn my friend about being careful and about some precautions.
     
  6. Oct 9, 2004 #5

    Integral

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    Dare I tell about the time I broke a ~20lb flask of Hg?
     
  7. Oct 9, 2004 #6

    chem_tr

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    My God! What did you do? You are fine and still sane as you've posted nearly 1900 threads :smile:
     
  8. Oct 9, 2004 #7

    Moonbear

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    And I thought I was bad for playing with the mercury from a broken thermometer when I was a kid. The little liquid silver balls were fun to roll around. Mom seemed rather angry when she found me playing with mercury though. :biggrin:

    When working with anything, the best precaution to avoid messy clean-ups is to create an easy to clean work-area. Keep everything containing the mercury within a container you can throw away when done. For example, an inexpensive plastic dishpan. Line the bottom with some paper or paper towels...something easy to pick up...and if you spill, then you just lift up the paper and pour the mercury back into a proper container. By doing it over a dishpan, you avoid the little mercury balls rolling off the surface you're working on and onto the floor where they may get lost and make it harder to decontaminate.
     
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