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Author: Subject: How hazardous is mercury droplets?
laguzaza
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[*] posted on 20-10-2018 at 22:57
How hazardous is mercury droplets?


So I was trying to remove mercury from my old thermometer before discarding it and I accidentally dropped some droplets of mercury.
I was able to collect most of them but when I tried to pick the last piece of mercury it slipped away and I couldn't find it anywhere.

I recall its radius was about 1mm and what I'm concerned is can it pose a serious threat to health should it vaporizes? The accident happened in my room and I keeping my window open to ventilate air.
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j_sum1
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[*] posted on 21-10-2018 at 00:32


I don't think it is all that hazardous in the amounts you have described. But given it is a closed room and you will be breathing a significant amount of the air in there, caution might not be a bad thing.

Sprinkle some fine sulfur powder over the area where the Hg may be sitting. Move it round a bit with a broom. Let it sit for a while. Then vacuum it up and discard the vacuum bag straight away.
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Panache
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[*] posted on 21-10-2018 at 00:37


I concur with 'chasin. No need to get all apoplectic about it. It's generally always exposureover time elements that causeissue. So unless you drop a drop every day in your room for two years you'll probably never notice
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[*] posted on 21-10-2018 at 02:25


Quote: Originally posted by Panache  
So unless you drop a drop every day in your room for two years you'll probably never notice

I'd be more concerned if all 730 drops were placed in the room at the beginning of the two years.
Mercury evaporates so slowly that 730 slightly smaller, dustier drops will probably still be present after the two years.
With moderate ventilation, one drop of mercury will not evaporate quickly enough to build up a significant concentration of mercury vapour,
which in ant case is much denser than air.
So if your room is ventilated, do not worry.
But do not sleep on the floor ;)
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unionised
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[*] posted on 21-10-2018 at 05:11


Quote: Originally posted by Sulaiman  
...enough to build up a significant concentration of mercury vapour,
which in ant case is much denser than air.
So if your room is ventilated, do not worry.
But do not sleep on the floor ;)


Can we please, once and for all, nail the idea that gases settle out significantly.
Hydrogen sulphide is significantly denser than air.
Do you need to lie down to smell a fart?
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Hendrik
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[*] posted on 21-10-2018 at 05:29


The situation you described doesn't seem to be really hazardous, but you still need to take some safety precautions. Pour some zinc and sulfur powder on the floor. The mercury droplets will form an amalgam with the zinc powder and the sulfur will lead to the precipitation of the sulfides. Sweep the area with a broom, vacuum the dust and discard the bag as j_sum1 suggested.
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fusso
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[*] posted on 21-10-2018 at 05:29


Quote: Originally posted by unionised  
Quote: Originally posted by Sulaiman  
...enough to build up a significant concentration of mercury vapour,
which in ant case is much denser than air.
So if your room is ventilated, do not worry.
But do not sleep on the floor ;)


Can we please, once and for all, nail the idea that gases settle out significantly.
Hydrogen sulphide is significantly denser than air.
Do you need to lie down to smell a fart?
Ah yes, eat more farty foods so you can fart more to release more H2S, which would react with O2 and Hg to form inerter HgS. HgS is far less toxic (due to extremely low solubility) than Hg :P



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Plunkett
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[*] posted on 21-10-2018 at 06:01


Quote: Originally posted by j_sum1  
Sprinkle some fine sulfur powder over the area where the Hg may be sitting. Move it round a bit with a broom. Let it sit for a while. Then vacuum it up and discard the vacuum bag straight away.

The EPA recommends against using a vacuum cleaner for cleaning up mercury because it pulls mercury into the air. For a 1 mm drop it might not be as big of a deal, but their recommendation for cleaning up mercury spills once you remove the larger beads is as follows:
Quote:
After you remove larger beads, put shaving cream on top of small paint brush and gently "dot" the affected area to pick up smaller hard-to-see beads. Alternatively, use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments. (Peel the tape very slowly from the floor to keep the mercury beads stuck to the tape.) https://www.epa.gov/mercury/what-do-if-mercury-thermometer-b...

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laguzaza
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[*] posted on 21-10-2018 at 06:46


Thanks for the replies!
I've duct taped the floor for last few hours for any potentially missing mercury droplets.
Now I really should get some sulfur and sweep the floor.
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gatosgr
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[*] posted on 21-10-2018 at 08:36


It's not a major concern there are countless thermometers broken and mercury droplets that weren't cleaned in rooms , no one is dead yet from mercury poisoning, just don't eat tuna every day.


[Edited on 21-10-2018 by gatosgr]




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CobaltChloride
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[*] posted on 21-10-2018 at 10:33


Quote: Originally posted by Hendrik  
The situation you described doesn't seem to be really hazardous, but you still need to take some safety precautions. Pour some zinc and sulfur powder on the floor. The mercury droplets will form an amalgam with the zinc powder and the sulfur will lead to the precipitation of the sulfides. Sweep the area with a broom, vacuum the dust and discard the bag as j_sum1 suggested.


Please don't suggest pouring both zinc and sulfur powder on the floor. We don't want to make a pyrotechnic composition on the floor :P

Either way, zinc powder is better because it quickly gobbles up the mercury forming non-volatile zinc amalgam. Sulfur works a lot more slowly.
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j_sum1
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[*] posted on 21-10-2018 at 11:23


Quote: Originally posted by Plunkett  
Quote: Originally posted by j_sum1  
Sprinkle some fine sulfur powder over the area where the Hg may be sitting. Move it round a bit with a broom. Let it sit for a while. Then vacuum it up and discard the vacuum bag straight away.

The EPA recommends against using a vacuum cleaner for cleaning up mercury because it pulls mercury into the air. For a 1 mm drop it might not be as big of a deal, but their recommendation for cleaning up mercury spills once you remove the larger beads is as follows:
Quote:
After you remove larger beads, put shaving cream on top of small paint brush and gently "dot" the affected area to pick up smaller hard-to-see beads. Alternatively, use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments. (Peel the tape very slowly from the floor to keep the mercury beads stuck to the tape.) https://www.epa.gov/mercury/what-do-if-mercury-thermometer-b...


Quote:
Either way, zinc powder is better because it quickly gobbles up the mercury forming non-volatile zinc amalgam. Sulfur works a lot more slowly.


Correct, both of you.

I was assuming carpet in a bedroom in which case a vacuum cleaner might be more effective in removal than other methods.
And I figured sulfur would be less of a nuisance than zinc to get out of the carpet fibres.
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woelen
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