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Author: Subject: Help !!!! Hg-Thermometer broken !!!!
elsemka
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[*] posted on 7-9-2010 at 10:18
Help !!!! Hg-Thermometer broken !!!!



The title says all ::)

To the facts:

It happens in a small room 3,5 * 3,5 m, in the basement.
There is a stone floor, and the Mercury spilled all over the place (dominantly in one corner).

The first thing I do was open the window (standing already on newspapers, since Im
had exactly seen what has happened. were kneeing on the floor in the moment of the desaster).
Since nothing else on hand I started to spread well-spaced Zinc everywhere where I see even
the smallest Mercury-Ball.
But ,like expected, nothing happens. So I "weted" the Zinc spaces a bit but even after that
nothing happens.

I had read it "should" work with Sulfur. Of course I know what theoret. going in this reaction ,
but the meanings are widespread.
Can I simply buy a kilo and spill it over the floor ?
And what is with the smell problem, is it a problem ?
Have never worked with Sulfur. (I know, I know)

Or are there Alternatives that are more effectiv, or whatever ?
But please no exotic complex-builders, EDTA is OK :)

I have read somwhere you can use IodineCarbon (dont know
if it is written correctly), ok for the vapors but possibly in an mixed application with sulfur ?

And my favorite but expensive: Kits like Mercurisorb.
But where to buy it ? (PM, but only when you outside the USA)


So, please only Hints that comes from real experiences.



[Edited on 7-9-2010 by elsemka]
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Mr. Wizard
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[*] posted on 7-9-2010 at 10:53


First thing is to get a grip on yourself. I can see you hyperventilating through the text. ;) Opening the basement window won't hurt. Leave it open for a week or so. Arrange for fresh air to circulate through the basement and out of any living area. Sweep up, with a soft bristled paint brush, the glass and any visible mercury globules onto a newspaper that you have wet along one edge Take this paper, bag it with some loose sulfur and dispose of it. If you have a place that takes mercury filled fluorescent lamps you may feel better about taking it there. I would just put it in the trash. As for the remaining mercury, get some powdered sulfur and dust it over the floor and leave it there. The mercury vapor binds with the sulfur to form a non volatile, fairly safe residue. If you can't find powdered sulfur try the flakes they often sell at nursery and garden supply. You might have to grind it up in an old coffee blender.

As a child ,I spilled much more mercury than any thermometer holds, and was too ignorant to worry about it. That was 50 years ago. It is a slight risk, but don't lose any sleep over it. Calling a haz-mat team will cost you a LOT of money, drama, and grief. I can guarantee you won't do it again.

To repeat:
Ventilate, sweep, sulfur, wait, sweep, sulfur, wait.. repeat. Sulfur into floor cracks is a good thing. Sulfur is non toxic.
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Eclectic
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[*] posted on 7-9-2010 at 11:01


Zinc dust is very good too, but don't use both zinc dust and powdered sulfur together, as it is a friction sensitive rocket fuel combination.
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Formatik
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[*] posted on 7-9-2010 at 12:50


I've spilled mercury many times and done all sorts of things against it, once I even trapped a mercury globule and then poured a lot liquid nitrogen on it, it froze it, but melted so fast that it couldn't be picked up with a piece of paper. Worthless.

The best thing to do is the tedious thing and that is to take some time and collect it with a dropper (if you can, and it hasn't gone into crevices or carpet). What I usually do is first bring all of the little globules together (with a piece of paper, newspaper, etc), and form a large globule. Then use the dropper to pick it up. Hold the dropper parallel, not vertically, when sucking up.

Mercury doesn't react very readily with aluminium dust either (I've let it sit for a couple days outside and nearly nothing reacted even after stirring and mixing it occasionally). Zinc dust was the same. I wouldn't put any powder on the mercury, then it would be contaminated, and you can't get it pure! That's if you care about getting it back. Only if I couldn't reach the mercury (e.g. it went into cracks or carpet), then I would put some sulfur onto it and let it sit for some time (several weeks maybe).

The best preventative thing I could do in a break, work on a flat surface to begin with so if mercury does spill (from a thermometer, handling directly, etc), it is easy to clean up manually.
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Wizzard
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[*] posted on 7-9-2010 at 12:52


I agree- Sulfur will do the trick, but it takes some time. Stir it well :)
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zed
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[*] posted on 7-9-2010 at 16:30


Mercury amalgamates marvelously with Silver. If it so much as touches Silver, it is sucked right up. Kind of an expensive fix, but of course, once you have the mercury captured, you can recover the silver. If you made a little brush with fine bristles of Silver plated wire, you could clean up that Mercury pronto.

I don't know how well Hg amalgamates with Copper, but if it amalgamates aggressively, a brush with copper bristles is very do-able. Just take a few feet of electrical cord, strip off the insulation, and use the fine wire therein, to produce a "brush". Alternately, dipping your copper brush into a Dilute Silver Solution, might cause Silver to plate out on the bristles. Making it a Silver brush.

Regardless of treatment with metal, I would still dust the floor with Sulfur, as a finishing touch. Eventually, I might even paint the floor. Kind of a small area.

Don't really want Mercury Vapor building up.
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elsemka
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[*] posted on 15-9-2010 at 03:04


At first:
Thanx for the advice.

@Mr.Wizard
Yeah, a bit ADS style :D
but I dont want to make compromises and so I offer all that I know.

I will try sulfur when it arrives.



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The WiZard is In
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[*] posted on 15-9-2010 at 06:21


Quote: Originally posted by elsemka  

The title says all ::)

To the facts:

It happens in a small room 3,5 * 3,5 m, in the basement.
There is a stone floor, and the Mercury spilled all over the place (dominantly in one corner).



A - I wouldn't worry 'bout it.

B- If'n you do —

Extracted from :—

Management and control of Hg exposure
American Laboratory July, 1988
David N Easton
Scanned! And you know what that means!!

Mercury spill cleanup procedures:


Because mercury will disperse into fine droplets throughout the area where it is
spilled, an effective cleanup procedure requires two steps. Always wear rubber
gloves and take care to avoid spreading the spill through inadvertent contact.
Wear appropriate respiratory protection if testing shows that levels of airborne
mercury are high.


1) A trap consisting of a filter flask connected to a vacuum source at the
side-arm and a length of Tygon tubing at the inlet is used to collect all visible
droplets. A Pasteur pipet at the inlet end of the tube facilitates the pickup. A good
flashlight is essential for finding fugitive droplets.
2) After the gross contamination has been removed, sprinkle the entire area of
the spill with a liberal application of elemental zinc powder. Dampen the zinc
powder with dilute (5-10%) sulfuric acid solution to create a paste-like
consistency. Work the paste into the contaminated surface with a sponge or a
brush. After the paste dries to a light gray color, it may be swept up for routine
disposal. The residual material is removed with soap and water.


This procedure results in an amalgam of mercury and zinc (the acidic solution
shifts the equilibrium toward the bound product). The more conventional
treatment with calcium polysulfide or flowers of sulfur merely reduces the vapor
pressure by coating the droplets. Subsequent frictional forces can disrupt this
coating and result in additional vapor release.

C- Buy a commercial mercury spill cleanup kit.
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metalresearcher
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[*] posted on 15-9-2010 at 10:58


Of course we must handle Hg carefully especially its vapors. And when we have mercury thermometer(s) we should do all to avoid breakage.

But we should not exaggerate. In a thermometer bulb there are only a few grams (or even less) of Hg. I bet an avberage household has more Hg in its (compact) fluorescent lamps than in a thermometer. Even worse, another toxic (albeit per unit os mass less than Hg) element abundantly in a household is Pb. Older water and sewer piping and in all buidings under window frames or sometimes even in garden decoration with lead linings !
And what about the Cd in many still used NiCd batteries in cordless drills ?


[Edited on 2010-9-15 by metalresearcher]
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DougTheMapper
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[*] posted on 15-9-2010 at 11:19


If you can, make a collection device using a vacuum cleaner, some PET drink bottles, and a few bits of hose. You might be able to save some of it if there was a substantial amount.
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[*] posted on 15-9-2010 at 19:05


Hg, interestingly enough reacts with sulfur powder, just sprinkle S on it.
This raises an interesting possibility of dissolving metallic silver (or gold!) with tetrathionate solution (with some added thiosulfate for froming a complex with the gold)

Au(SSO3(-))4 complex ions dissolving. Keep in mind that even a solution of bromine can slowly dissolve gold. It is not that gold is particularly resistant to oxidation, rather it just does not form stable covalent bonds with oxygen, and is extremely reluctant to ionize.
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Elawr
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[*] posted on 16-9-2010 at 18:14


It's a good thing we didn't know how toxic Hg is when we were kids playing with it. I wonder why we are not all mad as hatters by now...or are we? :-)



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Mr. Wizard
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[*] posted on 16-9-2010 at 19:02


Quote: Originally posted by Elawr  
It's a good thing we didn't know how toxic Hg is when we were kids playing with it. I wonder why we are not all mad as hatters by now...or are we? :-)


I 'knew' it was poisonous but being a kid, thought it didn't really apply to me. :( Knowing what mercury vapor smells like can not be a good thing. Melting solder in a test tube, and mixing it with an equal amount of Mercury to make low melting alloys isn't a good plan. It looked like silvery fudge. I can only hope it doesn't come back to bite me in my remaining years.
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[*] posted on 16-9-2010 at 19:03


Ah. Who knows what heights we might have scaled, were we not all suffering from Mercury poisoning?

[Edited on 17-9-2010 by zed]
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[*] posted on 17-9-2010 at 00:36


i recently replied to this post but didn't not enter it as i thought it somewhat foolish (the reply i had written not the original post), however wtf, my advice is that i expect you would be unable to discern any measurable difference in yourself if instead of dropping that thermometer, you simply drank the mercury from it, the danger with mercury is the accumulation over time if exposed to atmospheres with an unacceptably high background level. Even if you never cleaned up that spill the concentration in the air would never be high enough for long enough (and that is the key) to poison you significantly.
If you do the maths on pregnant women not eating shellfish hyperbol, you realise that no-one could actually afford to eat enough shellfish to do any significant harm to the 'little miracle'(60 billion and counting), but you know what they say about parents, actually you wouldn't because i made this one up

Q:When is a spade not a spade
A: When its a parent




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The WiZard is In
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[*] posted on 17-9-2010 at 06:11
Elemental Mercury Embolism to the Lung


Lungs tarted up for Christmas.

http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM200006153422405

Pulmonary Embolism Caused by Elemental Mercury

http://tinyurl.com/286jrvy

&c., &c.

Mercury Exposure in a High School Laboratory -- Connecticut
From the CDC's - MMWR

http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00001056.htm





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Panache
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[*] posted on 18-9-2010 at 23:12


Quote: Originally posted by The WiZard is In  
Lungs tarted up for Christmas.

http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM200006153422405

Pulmonary Embolism Caused by Elemental Mercury

http://tinyurl.com/286jrvy

&c., &c.

Mercury Exposure in a High School Laboratory -- Connecticut
From the CDC's - MMWR

http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00001056.htm







Those are incredible, he's like the wolverine, note in the 2nd paper the clinician dismissed the bodies ability to absorb elemental mercury through the skin or digestive tract, noting the lungs as the only feasible pathway, unless of course as this fella did and inject it. Still no long term effects, actually no short term effects except the site of the injection was hot and painful.




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