Among the toxic heavy metals you can encounter, mercury is among the most potent. Along with how potent it is, mercury is also dangerous because of the fact that there are everyday tools we use that include this substance. If someone is exposed to mercury, it can cause adverse effects to many areas of the body, such as the digestive, reproductive, immune, and circulatory systems. It can also cause damage to your gastrointestinal tract, lungs, and kidneys.
Knowing how to stay safe with mercury is crucial, and a big part of being safe with this substance is knowing what causes mercury exposure from the start. This will help you take the proper measures to protect yourself. Here are some of the reasons people could experience mercury exposure.
Fluorescent Light Bulbs
Fluorescent light bulbs have under ten milligrams of mercury in them, but even this small dose can be dangerous. Because of even this small amount of mercury, all fluorescent light bulbs must have Hg markings on them to let people know that mercury is in these bulbs. Due to the mercury they have, you must dispose of these bulbs the proper way. This minimizes how much mercury gets into the environment, thus minimizing mercury exposure in the area. Mercury exposure goes up when fluorescent light bulbs get broken, so make sure you are handling them with care.
Mercury thermometers have considerably more mercury in them than fluorescent light bulbs, typically between the amounts of 500 and 54,000 milligrams. Mercury thermometers have elemental mercury inside of them, which can be absorbed into the human body with ease.
If you break a thermometer, it releases liquid mercury, which can get into the GI tract. Even when it’s not absorbed directly into the body, liquid mercury can cause trouble. It can get into cracks in the floor, or carpeting if you have it, and while it’s outside of the thermometer, dangerous vapors get released to increase your risk of mercury exposure.
Much like with fluorescent light bulbs, you can minimize mercury exposure from thermometers by handling them the right way so that you don’t break them. Make sure you store and dispose of them correctly as well.
Where Do Most Elemental Mercury Spills Originate?
Elemental mercury spills can occur due to a number of circumstances. Here is a list of tools that are known to contain mercury in them:
- Blood pressure cuffs
- Grandfather clocks
- Gas Regulators
- Scientific Thermometers
Once a spill occurs, it doesn’t take much for it to spread to other areas of your facility, and this makes it even tougher to clean safely. If left unchecked, mercury can cause serious problems, most notably, via inhalation, which is the most potent way mercury can harm a person. Mercury has the ability to harm people’s central nervous systems, and possibly even alter their personalities or cause impairments in cognitive function.
What Makes Mercury Spills So Dangerous?
A mercury spill is bad enough, but elemental mercury can split into microbeads, covering more surface area, and if your building is heated, that only amplifies the intensity of the mercury gasses.
If you ever suffer mercury exposure in your building, you should get ventilation to all affected areas, such as by opening a window. Then, leave all affected articles of clothing behind and let a hazmat team handle everything.
Contact AEG Environmental for Your Mercury Remediation Concerns
AEG Environmental has the staff you need to handle any mercury-related problem. We have mercury vapor analyzers and a whole response team at the ready to help with the cleaning process. We’ll be sure your office is clean and safe by the time we’re done. Give us a call today if our mercury remediation services interest you.