Metallic mercury is a shiny, silver-white metal that is a liquid at room temperature. Everyone knows that mercury is one of the most powerful poisons, thus, have toxicity even mercury vapor. Back in the early 70s nobody cared what we were doing as long as we weren't fighting or in the grownups hair. When I was in primary school my science teacher told us that we should not touch mercury and do not break the thermometer. I discovered that I, by my lack of attention, have spread mercury along the house. I use to float a shot put in a half gallon of mercury until they sent in the boys from hazmat took my toy away. Secure the bag and label it. I poured some out and was amazed. Place the paint brush or duct tape in a zip lock bag and secure. A guy at work spilt mercury from a broken thermometer. Even a simple thing such as a broken thermometer can lead to mercury poisoning. Loved dropping it on the desk into many tiny beads, then push them all together to form a bigger bead. It is unlikely to harm adults. His wellingtons where full and he could not move, before I helped to rescue him he fell over in 3 foot deep Hg. However ... Read More. Mercury exists as a vapor (gaseous elemental Hg), as a liquid (elemental Hg), as a reactive species (Hg2+) and as organic methylmercury (MeHg). Yes: If you break the thermometer and pour the mercury out and rub it on your skin. We all know better now, but I do need to chime in on the actual risks. In high school chemistry, I accidentally got in on a blue birthstone ring that was gold. Guidance for Managing Broken Mercury Fever Thermometers. It was every science teachers toy after blowing up magnesium in water. Place all broken objects on a paper towel. I've just broken an old mercury thermometer. If you break a mercury thermometer or light bulb, a small amount of liquid mercury may spill out. None of us died, In fact most of us are now very well and over age of 75. I had a gold ring on one time and accidentally touched the mercury drop with the ring. I played with it as a kid and in high school, but was never around fumes. I tried to wipe it all off. For non-mercury thermometers, simply clean up the glass carefully, wash exposed skin, and give them a drink of water if the liquid got into their mouth. Popping a few balls of Hg from a thermometer into your mouth isn't a good idea, but it's not likely to hurt you. ipsum dol. Accidental oral or skin exposure to elemental mercury does not need medical assessment unless the patient is symptomatic. The mercury-in-glass or mercury thermometer was invented by physicist Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit in Amsterdam (1714). After a while I noticed that the mercury got onto my skin, merging with the water. Mercury thermometers are extremely dangerous when broken because of the hazardous liquids contained inside. As a grade school kid back in the 1950's we always played with mercury. I told my dad I found it and he told me not to mess with it and that it is toxic if exposed for a prolonged time. As a kid I loved playing with mercury I remember pushing the small spheres together to make a larger sphere. How much mercury spilled in a room will make air in the room unsafe? I asked a chemist in my area what … In the above instructions, you were asked to separate as much of the liquid mercury as possible from the Once you have decided on which area you will use the thermometer place it there and wait three … Such drops can penetrate into the small gap remains between the fibers in the carpet and gradually evaporate, thereby poisoning the air. Over a decade ago science professor at US Davis passed a way from over exposure to Mercury in the lab. If you break a mercury thermometer or light bulb, a small amount of liquid mercury may spill out. . Mercury is found in a number of household products, including fever thermometers. Still saddens me to think of him. Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences, University of Tennessee at Knoxville, B.A., Physics and Mathematics, Hastings College. I'm now in my 60s, healthy and teaching. I'm not sure if that is enough. If, at the moment, it is not possible to apply for help to specialists, it is necessary to follow the order of actions in collecting mercury. ... Old : Old thermometers contain elemental mercury. The affected areas may need to be removed and disposed of in a particular way. The mercury may also evaporate into vapour. However, this small amount of mercury … Now my skin is red and I have weird lines on my skin. The patient’s mercury exposure is benign. Is food dropped on the floor ever safe to eat? My mother left me alone because she needs to work and left me a glass of milk. Mercury is a metal that's liquid at room temperature. I do not remember any problems that occurred at the time or since that time. People have known it is toxic for a long time. 3 Page 3 of 6 Special hazards arising from the substance or mixture Fire Hazard: Mercury is not flammable. I accidentally dropped a thermometer (one attached to a wooden board to display room temperature), and without thinking, I picked the broken pieces of glass and wood (threw them into the garbage can.) To summarize, I broke a mercury thermometer in my bedroom, which is a place where is difficult to have sure that I get rid of all mercury, but I cleaned the large amount without touching it. Mercury is known and used by mankind since ancient times, in view of which surroundeded the fog of myths, rumors and prejudices. Luckily, it was not a very expensive ring nor something I wore much. Mercury thermometers … Traditional tungsten or filament light bulbs don't contain mercury. Learn about the health effect... How long do bacteria and viruses live outside the body? Hi, I've always been warned since childhood not to touch mercury, so never have. Sometimes inadvertently mercury thermometer can be broken. A friend once told me that the one word which terrifies people, enough to dissuade them from tackling a recipe, was the word “thermometer.” Candy making generally requires the use of a thermometer and I’m not sure why people get uneasy around thermometers because like kitchen scales, when things are in precise measurements – like degrees, pounds, or grams – it’s pretty straightforward. And I remember using DDT as an insecticide. Jack London used to rub it on himself in belief that it would cure him of illness. If a thermometer breaks in your home, please follow EPA's recommended cleanup steps to carefully clean up and dispose of the broken glass and silver mercury … If the liquid is not silver in color, it does not contain mercury. Use steel wool to absorb the mercury. Instead she was the one who broke it and the mercury was spilled exactly on me all over my hands and maybe face, I'm not sure as it happened too fast. I could barely see it, but there was a bit there. We got down with notebook paper and scraped it up into pile and scooped it up and put in back in the bottle. A friend of mine who had a similar background died two years ago from a heart attack unrelated to mercury. Mercury is a liquid metal that has been used in thermometers for many years, but it is toxic if swallowed or inhaled. The volume of mercury in a thermometer is very small. Fold the paper towel and place in a zip lock bag. Is Eating Apple Seeds or Cherry Pits Safe? If the thermometer contains mercury, the main concern with mercury is from inhaling the vapors, not from touching or swallowing it. If you have damp and mould you're more likely to have respiratory problems, respiratory infections, allergies or asthma. It is obvious that when the mercury thermometer is broken - it's a disaster, since the impact of mercury on the stems and develops into small droplets, which are scattered throughout the room. Carbon monoxide is a clear, tasteless and odourless gas that can cause serious illness or death if you breathe in too much of it. Don't use a vacuum or a broom, since this contaminates the tools and actually spreads the mercury more than if you do nothing. Popping a few balls of Hg from a thermometer into your mouth isn't a good idea, but it's not likely to hurt you. A single awkward movement is enough to throw toxic silver balls around the room. Thermometers. I am 80 so of course I touched mercury in chemistry lab. When I was in high school we spilled a pint bottle of mercury in the floor. She has taught science courses at the high school, college, and graduate levels. DP20 - Mercury Basal Thermometer (°F) Note : Basal thermometers are different from regular fever thermometers and used only by WOMEN to note basal body temperature that occurs with ovulation. Even a simple thing such as a broken thermometer can lead to mercury poisoning. My kids got the "don't touch it" lecture. Fold the paper towel and place in a zip locking bag. Any basic environmental chemistry text will say about 7% stays in the body, while 93% is excreted. If you break one, it's unlikely to cause any health problems. Mercury spilled from broken thermometers also poses an environmental and I was too shock to take immediate action and so all I've done is wash my hands thoroughly. I'm worried please help! That seems odd. Although these thermometers provide excellent performance, regulations on the sale of mercury thermometers limit their continued availability. The experience of seeing the tiny pieces turned into a big one and break them again into tiny pieces was kind of interesting, if not amazing to us during our freshman year. The advantage of a mercury thermometer is its stable accuracy in temperature measurement. If you kept exposing yourself everyday even in small amounts could build to harmful amounts in the body, while if it you did it a couple of times a month then it won't build up. Metallic mercury is not very hazardous. However, if you breathe in mercury vapour or globules, it can be absorbed into the bloodstream and cause symptoms such as: Your eyes may be sore if mercury vapour gets into them. Metallic mercury is the elemental or pure form of mercury (i.e., it is not combined with … Mercury spills are rare but can happen if you break a mercury thermometer, thermostat, or fluorescent bulb. I'm 56 and pretty darn healthy! How do I clean up the spill? Mercury is a highly toxic liquid metal that ‘shatters' into tiny balls, so take great care when cleaning it up. I asked for it and was given it. If a clinical thermometer breaks, the mercury can evaporate and create a toxic vapor that can harm both humans and the environment t To avoid touching the mercury from a broken thermometer, use a vacuum cleaner to clean up the mercury It is fun stuff. Herein, we present a case of subcutaneous metallic mercury injection in the hand caused by a broken thermometer and surgical tips for this injury. I rubbed mercury on coins, made lead soldiers, and our home water pipes were lead. Still alive and kicking. The thermometer broke and some mercury spilled onto the floor. Stumbled upon today a post about a broken thermometer, revered some comments, remembered that promised to write a post about Mercury. Mercury vapors and oxides generated during fires involving the product are toxic. I am 80 with no known health problems. My father was a chemical engineer and he showed us how to do this. It wasn't intentional or planned but when one of our thermometers in the lab was broken, we found it the right time to get the experience while we were trying to collect the small pieces. In grade school during the early 60's we were given mercury as a hands on experiment. Step-by-step answer. This was done several times by my brother and me. If you touch it, a … 0 comment. Most chemistry rooms have a bead of Mercury flowing around their mop boards. He didn't drown. The air in a room can reach contamination levels just from the mercury in a broken thermometer - just a few drops. Some thermometers and light bulbs contain very small amounts of mercury. I work on mercury for preparation of their salts, it is poisonous & and its salts are corrosive. However – other factors to consider: If you still have one of those old mercury thermometers hanging around your home, the AAP says to get rid of it. The main drawback of the thermometer is that it can be easily broken. The preferred method of disposal for unbroken mercury thermometers and the mercury from broken thermometers is to take them to a local household hazardous waste collection facility or thermometer collection site if one is available in your area. Yes, you are going to die. I never had any reaction either topically or systemically to the mercury. Broken thermometers, filled with tiny blobs of mercury, are the most common culprits. New electronic thermometers and those that use a red dye and alcohol mixture are much easier to read and safer to use. Instead, put on a pair of rubber or latex gloves and carefully pick up broken glass or plastic with a paper towel. So now I'm brain-damaged? By using ThoughtCo, you accept our, The Most Toxic Elements on the Periodic Table, A Guide to Mercury Applications in Metalurgy. It was probably the funniest thing I ever did and I'm not brian damajed. However, this small amount of mercury is extremely unlikely to cause problems for your health. We were around 6-12 in a group of kids that just hung out together. Our local school broke a thermometer and the school was evacuated, closed and a chemical response team called in to clean up the mercury. If a mercury spill is not cleaned up right away, vapors will continue to be produced. Wash your skin or eyes (removing any contact lenses first) with lukewarm water for at least 10 to 15 minutes if they come into contact with mercury. In these cases, it is advisable to get in contact with your local authority's environmental health department. I have touched mercury back in the day, before it was regulated. 0. Liquid mercury can separate into small beads, which can roll some distance away. It costs about $30 and contains the following items: Not sure if this is a result of that or working in chemicals laboratories all my life. Liquid mercury can turn into a vapour (gas), so clean up a spill as safely and quickly as possible using the tips below. Humans have been in existence for around 200,000 years, and every last one of those throughout history has died. Even if mercury continues to be ingested, it will not cause insanity but it could cause kidney failure. Symptoms of mercury poisoning. Q. I got mercury from a broken thermometer on my gold wedding ring, and it bonded to the gold. We didn't realize then it wasn't a good idea! Nam risus ante, dapibus a molestie consequa, consectetur adipiscing elit. I don't know how to read thermometer that time so what I did is to put the thermometer in the milk so see how it works, but it breaks off. As a middle school age boy we had an old oil burning boiler removed and in the removal was about a pint of liquid mercury. It consists of a bulb containing mercury attached to a glass tube of narrow diameter; the volume of mercury in the tube is much less than the volume in the bulb. Seal the pieces in a plastic bag. You can use several other types of thermometer to take someone's temperature, such as digital thermometers, thermometer strips and ear thermometers. It looks like silvery-white beads or balls (globules). When I was a kid, back before there were spirit thermometers, the various oil companies and insurance companies used to mail out desk calendars with little thermometers on one side. I had some in the palm of my hand for about five minutes when I was in middle school. ThoughtCo uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. The apartment was not ventilated at the time, upon noticing the broken thermometer I opened the … Knowing nothing about it I had no idea why my hand turned red. Did you shrug it off or seek medical attention? You should always seek the advice of your doctor when making decisions about your health. Pellentesque dapibus efficitur laoreet. We used to take the mercury out of thermometers and put it into a glass bottle. Now I just blow up magnesium. Metallic mercury slowly evaporates when exposed to the air. The gold and mercury reacted, permanently discoloring the ring. It made them appear to be half crowns (yes it's a longtime ago) so we could then go into the newsagent after school, buy ten cigarettes and still get change. But if you drop a bit, it could become atomized, and inhalation risks go up considerably. According to the Blacksmith Institute, 1/3rd of the mercury in the environment is due to artisanal gold mines. On another idea, I also made my own black powder and cannon (small 1/2 inch shot used). 1 … Pull them up and wow, if the environmental agency saw that. Here are responses from readers: Mercury does not absorb through your skin instantly. We would turn the bottle and watch it move around and thought it was cool. In a clinically stable patient, acute mercury aspiration with small globules of mercury in the lungs were noted.1 Signs and symptoms of toxicity usually result from an inhalation of vaporised elemental mercury, which is absorbed by the alveolar membrane.2, –, 4 In our case, the mercury was ingested rapidly and … Except for inhalation, only massive and continuous doses are toxic. ventilate the room by opening the windows, for example – leave them open for at least 15 minutes, go out of the room while it's being ventilated, making sure children and pets are kept out, wear rubber or plastic gloves and change into some old clothes before cleaning up the mercury beads and broken glass, pick up the pieces of glass carefully and put them in a plastic bag or container, collect the spilled mercury beads using a thin piece of card or a strip of masking tape – you can also use an empty plastic bottle to suck them up, such as an empty washing-up liquid bottle, mercury beads reflect light, so you can use a torch to look for any beads that are difficult to spot, put the card (or bottle) and the mercury beads into the plastic bag, wipe the area with a damp cloth, then put the cloth in the same bag and seal it, leave the room to ventilate for at least 24 hours after cleaning the spill, don't put the sealed bag in your household bin, as mercury is classed as hazardous waste, don't touch the mercury with your bare hands, try not to create dust – if there is any dust, avoid breathing it in, don't put the mercury down the sink or the drain, don't wash clothes with mercury on them in a washing machine – dispose of them in a sealed bag. Mercury spills on absorbent surfaces, such as carpets and upholstery, can be difficult to clean up. It's sensible to take extra care when you clean up the mercury. What should you do in such cases? He was brought into the ED by his wife and daughter who are his care-givers. To avoid mercury poisoning, a substance hazardous to health should be collected immediately. Even a small spill, such as from a broken thermometer, can produce hazardous amounts of vapor if a room is small enough, warm enough and people spend a good deal of time there, … So mercury and cigarettes from age 12 and I'm still here (I did give up smoking a long time ago). Form dictates toxicity. 0. It is ironic how fear mongering by the press and those out to make a dollar from unneeded actions has influenced the masses to leave their brains on off and look to a corrupt government for their salvation. MERCURY EXPOSURE Mercury is a very toxic or poisonous substance that people can be exposed to in several ways. We were playing with the mercury on our desks at our teacher's suggestion when this occurred. This was back in the 50s and I don't remember anyone thinking it was dangerous. Below are some tips to help you do this: Local councils provide facilities where you can dispose of the hazardous waste, such as local tips and recycling centres. The amount of mercury in a thermometer is very small, usually up to 3g. When I removed the thermometer about 45 minutes later I noticed the bottom had broken and the mercury had leaked out into the hot sand. We didn't smear it on pennies. Important: Our website provides useful information but is not a substitute for medical advice. I had a hard time getting it picked up off the counter. I have lost my sense of smell, and so taste. To avoid touching the mercury from a broken thermometer, use a vacuum cleaner to clean up the mercury. This was quite a few years ago before all the new OH&S laws, and this lab was completely internal with no exhaust fans. It's like cigarettes; deadly over long periods of exposure, but you aren't going to die if you walk into a smoky bar and have a drink. I was always cleaning mercury, cleaning up small spills and a few times arrived in the lab in the morning to find the seal on the mercury storage container on the machine had broken and the floor of the lab would be covered with a fine layer of mercury -- all of which I had to clean up. . But then, I'm old and nobody knew better then. These forms can be organized under three headings: metallic mercury (also known as elemental mercury), inorganic mercury, and organic mercury. In fact you could absorb more mercury by eating a can of tuna. The released liquid mercury will appear as small, bright or glimmering, silver-colored beads, droplets, or balls. However, I have more specific questions now. Prepping for Cleanup of a Broken Mercury Thermometer. This is considered almost non-toxic and you'll probably have no symptoms. Similar cases of mercury exposure by a broken thermometer have been reported. Metallic mercury ingested in a single acute dose, as with a mercury thermometer containing about 500–700 mg of elemental mercury is virtually non-toxic, however, significant exposure may occur through the inhalation of mercury vapours. He was fine after this, but his mercury urine levels where well over the safe limits. Liquid mercury is sometimes called metallic or elemental mercury. Anyone know where I can get some phosphorus? We used to study various science topics and run low-cost experiments. I'm sorry, but I don't see why anyone would ever touch the stuff! It was a great way to make silver dimes new and shiny. However, this small amount of mercury is extremely unlikely to cause problems for your health. If there are any broken pieces of glass or sharp objects, pick them up with care. I do not remember any warnings about mercury until maybe the 70's. I did touch liquid Mercury . Yes, you are going to die. 2002. When I worked in the University of Newcastle as a research Assistant in Chemistry I spent 3 years using Anodic Stripping Voltametry in researching certain compounds. I tried to clean it with a damp cloth. Is this ok or is it really dangerous? It wasn't intentional or planned but when one of our thermometers in the lab was broken, we found it the right time to get the experience while we were trying to collect the small pieces. 0 thank. Depending on the type of bacteria or virus and what the surrounding environment is like will inflence how long it lives for. I was also exposed to other poisons as part of university agricultural research. We knew it was poison but to us that meant we shouldn't eat it. Instead, put on a pair of rubber or latex gloves and carefully pick up broken glass or plastic with a … It costs about $30 and contains the following items: • Large nitrile gloves • 500g Hg absorbent powder • Ziploc bags 9"x13" Do NOT vacuum or sweep the broken thermometer pieces. Isolate the spill and ventilate the area right away. These can easily spill when dropped or cracked and will pose a serious threat to those in the area. I did not see any type of liquid on my fingertips, and immediately washed my hands thoroughly after. The only exception to this phenomenon is those humans have have not died yet. Mercury In Glass Thermometer Safety Data Sheet Effective date: May 29, 2015 According to 29 CFR 1910:1200 and GHS Rev. So, I am sure touching it once won't hurt you at all. In addition to the mercury, the broken glass poses an issue on its own and can be harmful to anyone who comes into contact with it. We put the 'five-second rule' under the microscope. I can't remember where / how we got it but I think it was in some sort of bottle and not a broken thermometer. Despite the mass appearance of electronic measuring instruments, thermometers with mercury do not go out of use. Inorganic and MeHg are metabolized, with half life of about 70 days. I would collect as many as I could, break them open, and chase the globs of mercury around for hours, rolling it around in my hand and across the floor. Mercury will vaporize slowly over time and can expose your family to toxic fumes for a very long time if not thoroughly cleaned up. That's my opinion, anyway! And once in a class at school. Elemental mercury does absorb through your skin, but at a very slow pace (I really mean very slowly). It stayed like that until a thief stole it when I was in college. Mercury occurs naturally in the environment and exists in several forms. I ended up majoring in chemistry in college as a result and taught it for 30 yrs. Bacteria transform inorganic mercury into MeHg, which accumulates up the food chain. Consider discontinuing the use of thermometers containing mercury if it is used for cooking or is a clinical thermometer. Secure the bag and label it as directed by your local health or fire department. The Mercury thermometer was invented in 1714 by Gabriel Fahrenheit. I also remember tossing sodium into water and taking phosphorus (?) Also, if it is heated, as in artisanal gold mining, the risks are high. So you don't ever want to handle mercury from a broken thermometer. Liquid mercury can turn into a vapour (gas), so clean up a spill as safely and quickly as possible using the tips below. I also love swordfish steaks, which are reported to have high Hg content. And as for the vapor, when the mercury is at room temp then the evaporation rate is only 0.063 ml per hour per cm squared of surface area exposed of mercury. When these thermometers break, there will be some broken glass and small amounts of mercury may sometimes be released. EH&S designed this kit for small elemental mercury spills, such as those from a broken mercury thermometer. A standard mercury fever thermometer contains about ½ gram of mercury. Metallic mercury ingested in a single acute dose, as with a mercury thermometer containing about 500–700 mg of elemental mercury is virtually non-toxic, however, significant exposure may occur through the inhalation of mercury vapours. Mercury thermometers are being phased out. The most toxic is inhaling gaseous mercury. The danger in mercury is long term exposure to its vapor. To avoid touching mercury from a broken thermometer, use a vacuum cleaner to clean up the mercury . Since mercury is highly toxic, using them in food or in the body is discouraged. The mercury may also evaporate into vapour. 1st time i touch mercury when i am in class 6 from medical thermometer it is running like a ball like a small dew, mother say's don't touch it is poisonous but i touch many times. If you have a mercury thermometer in your home and you want to get rid of it, you need to safely dispose of it as hazardous waste. When the mercury flows from the tube through a fracture, small spheres form. If you wash your hands after handling, risks are very low. The mercury may also evaporate into vapour. The amount of mercury in a thermometer is very small, usually up to 3g. out of water and letting it ignite as it dried. The only exception to this phenomenon is those humans have have not died yet. Get help cleaning up a spill. The person who will clean up the spill should have everyone else, espe-cially children, leave the spill area, including pets. Is there a chance that I may have touched the mercury in the thermometer? Change your clothes and put any soiled clothes in a sealed bag. Now I have MS. Contact with mercury instantly ruins jewelry, but boiling it in coconut oil can fix it! The poisonous vapour is the main threat. EH&S designed this kit for small elemental mercury spills, such as those from a broken mercury thermometer. I'm not trying to build up a false sense of safety with this material, as it's not something you should have out all the time. Liquid mercury can separate into small beads, which can roll some distance away. Several times during my childhood a mercury thermometer would break and my mother let me push the minute beads of mercury together (from all over the bathroom floor) and watch them eat each other and grow. Instructions: Difficult to manage mercury spills.” OBTAINING A MERCURY SPILL KIT . Is there a chance that I may have touched the mercury in the thermometer? When I worked in a large lab for two years in my early twenties we mixed asbestos, flour, and water to insulate our equipment. Darn bet'cha. If these bulbs are unbroken, they can usually be recycled at your local recycling centre. Nobody told us it was bad. Were you fine or did you experience symptoms or exposure? If you break a mercury thermometer or light bulb, a small amount of liquid mercury may spill out. I can't imagine there would be so many stupid people whom believe touching mercury would kill them. Maybe could account for some of my digestive problems now....? These bulbs are being phased out and replaced with energy-saving light bulbs. In primary school we each had some on our desk ALL the time to play with. Probably was full of lead! Clean a broken mercury thermometer from smooth surfaces. When liquid mercury is spilled, it forms droplets that can accumulate in the tiniest of spaces and then emit vapors. You can't kill all the germs in your home, but these are the germs you need to protect yourself against. Mercury-filled liquid-in-glass thermometers have a long history of use in a variety of laboratory and industrial applications. The room unsafe but it could cause kidney failure have damp and mould you more. Mercury-In-Glass or mercury thermometer as long as we were doing as long as were. From inhaling the vapors, not from touching or swallowing it than 4mg about! Remember tossing sodium into water and letting it ignite as it dried when cleaning up. On our desks at our teacher 's suggestion when this occurred discoloring the ring broken because of the most Elements! Be Difficult to manage mercury spills. ” OBTAINING a mercury thermometer was invented by Daniel. You clean up spills can be exposed to it very expensive ring nor something I much. Black powder touching mercury from broken thermometer cannon ( small 1/2 inch shot used ) toxic, using them in food in... 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Work on mercury for preparation of their salts, it was regulated has died ancient times, in most... A gold ring on one time and can expose your family to toxic fumes for a long...