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Author: Subject: Disposal of mercury salts (hazardous waste in general).
BromicAcid
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[*] posted on 31-7-2004 at 18:31
Disposal of mercury salts (hazardous waste in general).


I've always at least tried to care for my environment. I don't flush chemicals down drains, except things that normally go down drains (BaSO4, CuSO4, H2SO4), I don't just dump on the ground, except things that normally go on the ground (Some Nitrates, seems to like strong hydroxides and iron salts too). If I have a metal compound in a high oxidation state I will reduce it (Mn+7 and such), if it cannot be made environmentally friendly (i.e., nickel salts, lead salts) I might keep it, theoretically forever (after evaporating it to a solid). Solvents are always a pain, it all depends.

But today I worked with mercury and its salts. I really disliked the idea but I needed about .5 g of mercuric oxide. Now I have 150 ml of a solution that most likely contains mercury contamination, it was a mercuric nitrate solution, I added carbonate to it and precipitated the mercuric oxide which is the procedure that I found, and supposedly mercuric oxide is insoluble in water. Therefore the mercury contamination should be nil.

However the solution is still off yellow-orange. So I didn't want to just dump it, I will evaporate it and keep it forever if I have to. Elemental mercury could be disposed of at a hazardous waste collection agency. So that is a possible disposal route. The sulfide is highly insoluble, I'm wondering if that would be a reliable way to pacify it (Similar to the 'safety' of barium sulfate).

The other mercury thread was an interesting read but no real help.

Regardless, how do the hazardous waste disposal companies get rid of this nuisance? Whenever I tried to find "Mercury Disposal" with any other modifying terms all I could find were clean up kits.




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DDTea
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[*] posted on 31-7-2004 at 18:59


I know the EPA mixes Hazmats with cement (it might be cement, or some other compound..) and molds them into cylinders. That's all I know about that topic.
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[*] posted on 31-7-2004 at 19:04


I would serioulsy consider converting the remaining Hg x+ solution to HgS, simply by bubbling H2S through it. I guess you know that H2S is made rather easily.
In fact, the mercury spill kit we have in the lab intrigued me at first, so I had a look at it.
Surprise surprise, it contains solid sulphur! All you have to do is powder the solid sulphur onto it, and let it be absorbed/reacted for a few hours.
HgS, despite what the MSDS says, is probably the safest Hg salt that is easily made. It doesnt react with most acids/alkalis, and in fact for a long time, and even these days (in special circumstances) it is used for painting.
I think if you just convert it to the sulphide, your conscience should be at ease.

That reminds me... so are you going to get rid of the weeds simply by cutting them? ;) ;)
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[*] posted on 1-8-2004 at 05:55


Yep, mercury sulphide has a solubility of a few molecules per litre, from what I've heard. That's the safest form you'll get!



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BromicAcid
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thumbup.gif posted on 1-8-2004 at 06:04


Well, I guess I will try to precipitate with solid sulfur, and if that doesn't work I will put a pea sized piece of iron sulfide into a test tube and add a few drops of HCl and bubble that though my solution.

If I get a precipitate I will keep it and store it indefinitely, or I might make some use of it someday. The liquid will be tossed, a few molecules of HgS in the environment is acceptable. More Hg went into the environment when I opened the lid to my Hg then that.

Of course just because I've made up my mind doesn't mean other ideas would not be appreciated.




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[*] posted on 1-8-2004 at 20:43
lab waste disposal


Bromic Acid,

I must commend you for your environmental consciousness. My goals are similar - i.e., I intend to comply with the law, as a minimum.

As a SQG (small quantity generator) you can put some wastes, up to certain quantities, down the drain legally. Details depend on where you live.

Hazardous/toxic waste is another matter. Everyone should investigate and take full advantage of what waste disposal services their local agencies provide. My city has a "medium hazard" waste disposal station which provides small quantity househould waste disposal free to residents (paid for by our taxes). This is a wonderful way to get rid of pesticides, paint solvents, used oil, etc. Some of the pesticides they take in are surely more toxic than any waste I will likely generate. There will be some exceptions and I, like you, plan to deal with them case by case. I plan to fully address waste disposal in the experiment planning stage.

For air polution my goal here is to never get a complaint from a neighbor. I plan to design an air purifying system for my hood exhaust. It's just another project on my list.




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Organikum
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[*] posted on 2-8-2004 at 05:19


Neutralize the solution and dip a rod of pure zinc or tin into it. (even Al will work) The Hg will amalgamate into the zink and be removed almost completely.
Give it some time though.




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[*] posted on 28-7-2005 at 08:01
Disposal of mercury salts


What are the options for disposal of mercury salts (mercury(I) and mercury(II) chloride)? Small amounts, under 1 gram, used for amalgamation. Dumping it in the sink really isn't ethical, but nearest enviromental station that takes dangerous chemicals is a long way away. Is it ok to use it to amalgamate some aluminium and then throw it away?
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[*] posted on 28-7-2005 at 08:18


Dissolve them in plenty of water and bubble hydrogen sulfide through it until no more precipitate forms. (H2S can be prepared by heating paraffin with sulfur in a test tube with stopper+vent pipe into the solution, H2S evolves as a gas and carbon is left behind).

HgS is not listed as a hazardous material.
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[*] posted on 28-7-2005 at 16:47


Alternatively, you could use a metal sulfide. Na<sub>2</sub>S is sold in some photo stores.
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[*] posted on 29-7-2005 at 06:05


Na2S is not recommended, look in the "Preparation of Vermillion" Thread to see why. It forms a soluble complex with the mercury if too much Na2S is used.Therefore it's tricky.

However, he complex is destroyed when HCl is added until it is acidic, this precipitates all the mercury. Beware of the evolving H2S, though!

[Edited on 29-7-2005 by garage chemist]
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[*] posted on 31-7-2005 at 00:16
just checking


so after doing an al/hg reduction I could
filter the solution then bubble H2S to get
the mercury back.
wiked
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[*] posted on 18-8-2005 at 10:00


Wellll, BaSO4 shouldn't exactly be dumped down the drain. The Ba2+ ion poses a significant environmental hazard, as ecosystems really have no way of getting rid of the sulfate. As for mercuric salt disposal, just send it in to the EPA if you can. Last year, the EPA ordered a cleanup of Michigan high school chemistry labs, and all mercury, derivatives and elemental form was sent into the EPA. I'm actually not sure whether or not they're still running the program, however.



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[*] posted on 18-8-2005 at 11:44


BaSO4 is common mineral that can be found everywhere in the world. So it can not be remarkably dangerous to environment. It is insoluble in water and looks like quartz or calcite.
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[*] posted on 18-8-2005 at 16:45


Also, tons of it (probably literally) go down the drain each year, in order to x-ray the colon they force people to consume barium sulfate solutions then they send them home where they deposit it in the normal manner in the toilet.



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[*] posted on 18-8-2005 at 18:10


Quote:
Originally posted by BromicAcid
they force people to consume barium sulfate solutions


Force them is right, I had to have one of those done around 6 years ago and it tasted horrible.




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[*] posted on 18-8-2005 at 21:53


Quote:
Originally posted by chromium
BaSO4 is common mineral that can be found everywhere in the world. So it can not be remarkably dangerous to environment.


Now now, let's not forget where mercury, arsenic and uranium all come from. :P

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[*] posted on 19-8-2005 at 09:18


Yeah, cinnabar (HgS)....safe, copper matte (arsenides are often present)...safe, pitcheblende....safe.

Typically anything found in the environment is the safest compound/form of that element you'll find.

I don't see what's so wrong with dumping it.
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[*] posted on 19-8-2005 at 21:57


All right, so that we can end the discussion on whether barium sulfate is safe or not to dump, does anyone know its K<sub>sp</sub> offhand?

As to the issue of forcing, radiologists usually give you choices: drink it (blech), or they force it up your arse (a.k.a. enema). :D

It's not like they have more readily available radiopaques, you know...

"...Typically anything found in the environment is the safest compound/form of that element you'll find..."

Go tell that to the Bengalis who have to contend with arsenical well water... it's no wonder that they get tumors a bit more often than most.

"...pitchblende....safe..."

You don't suppose that Marie Curie dying from leukemia had absolutely nothing to do with her pitchblende experiments?

...but then again, pitchblende isn't exactly pure uranium/radium ore either... ;)

sparky (~_~)

[Edited on 20-8-2005 by sparkgap]




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[*] posted on 19-8-2005 at 22:04


Quote:
Originally posted by sparkgap

You don't suppose that Marie Curie dying from leukemia had absolutely nothing to do with her pitchblende experiments?



The comment was that pitchblende was safe, not that the radium you get from extracting it from several tonnes of ore is.:P
Unless you extract radioactive elements from it it is quite safe.




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[*] posted on 19-8-2005 at 22:06


Well to be fair, the pitchblende was being refined, from tons down to what, half a gram...

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[*] posted on 20-8-2005 at 14:22


Pitchblende is safe, relatively speaking. Sure, when concentrated, refined, and ground into a powder, yes it can cause cancer. Hell, the granite countertops in my kitchen increases the background radiation in my house by 40%.

It's all relevant to concentration of the radiation, and even more importantly of what type it is. I'd rather sit on a 5kg block of alpha emitting uranium than have 5 grams of a sinister cesium isotope spewing out gamma radiation.
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[*] posted on 21-8-2005 at 05:39


Well, places where pitchblende is exploited includes Katanga (Shaba) and Great Bear Lake, Canada. There are many other new localities but are a matter of international concern instead.

Furthermore, it is not easy to find pure pitchblende. It is always oxidised to some degree and grades in composition towards U3O8, containing small amounts of radium, thorium, and other rare elements. Radioactive disintegration gives rise to small quantities of lead and helium.
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[*] posted on 14-10-2005 at 03:40


The easiest and safest way to recycle mercury is by amalgamation; steel shavings work quite well if given enough time. Hydrogen sulfide is quite toxic and also odorless; a bad combination to say the least :(
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[*] posted on 14-10-2005 at 13:29


Odorless? Hardly (at least to me). I think you mean it loses its nasty rotten egg odor after you've over exposed yourself.
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