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. This was done several times by my brother and me. If these bulbs are unbroken, they can usually be recycled at your local recycling centre. As a kid I loved playing with mercury I remember pushing the small spheres together to make a larger sphere. Liquid mercury can turn into a vapour (gas), so clean up a spill as safely and quickly as possible using the tips below. Read on . Yes I am still alive at 62 years old, but I do have a rare form of depression for which there is only one form of medication to keep it under control. However, this small amount of mercury … Jack London used to rub it on himself in belief that it would cure him of illness. I also love swordfish steaks, which are reported to have high Hg content. Loved dropping it on the desk into many tiny beads, then push them all together to form a bigger bead. I am 80 so of course I touched mercury in chemistry lab. NET Basal Mercury Thermometer is an accurate device to chart basal body temperature of women to predict their fertile period or ovulation (three days). 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. I have touched mercury back in the day, before it was regulated. I had a hard time getting it picked up off the counter. 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.) Have you ever touched mercury or been exposed to it? If mercury spills out of a broken thermometer and is not cleaned up, it will evaporate into invisible vapor, potentially reaching dangerous levels in indoor air. A single awkward movement is enough to throw toxic silver balls around the room. My kids got the "don't touch it" lecture. Our local school broke a thermometer and the school was evacuated, closed and a chemical response team called in to clean up the mercury. One member had some mercury in a bottle that we put into a bowl and played with using our fingers, splitting it into smaller drops and then reuniting. Mercury will vaporize slowly over time and can expose your family to toxic fumes for a very long time if not thoroughly cleaned up. We put the 'five-second rule' under the microscope. 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 … The mercury may also evaporate into vapour. 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 This is considered almost non-toxic and you'll probably have no symptoms. However, you should avoid contact with the mercury and take extra care when cleaning it up. Now my skin is red and I have weird lines on my skin. Did you shrug it off or seek medical attention? He was fine after this, but his mercury urine levels where well over the safe limits. Secure the bag and label it. Mercury thermometer: The mercury thermometer is recognizable as the silver / gray liquid contained in the inner tube and the globule. Applies to all Mercury Spills 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. The gold and mercury reacted, permanently discoloring the ring. The thermometer broke and some mercury spilled onto the floor. Dr. Helmenstine holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and is a science writer, educator, and consultant. But then, I'm old and nobody knew better then. Needless to say, he did develop mercury poisoning, but that was over many years. Is there a chance that I may have touched the mercury in the thermometer? out of water and letting it ignite as it dried. These forms can be organized under three headings: metallic mercury (also known as elemental mercury), inorganic mercury, and organic mercury. Liquid mercury can separate into small beads, which can roll some distance away. It looks like silvery-white beads or balls (globules). Fold the paper towel and place in a zip locking bag. When I got into high school I found out how dangerous it is. In these cases, it is advisable to get in contact with your local authority's environmental health department. We smeared it over dimes as that kept the same color but made the dime really shiny. Liquid mercury is sometimes called metallic or elemental mercury. I asked a chemist in my area what … Mercury thermometers are extremely dangerous when broken because of the hazardous liquids contained inside. If that happens, you'll need to dispose of the mercury and contaminated objects properly. New electronic thermometers and those that use a red dye and alcohol mixture are much easier to read and safer to use. I'm 56 and pretty darn healthy! Most chemistry rooms have a bead of Mercury flowing around their mop boards. Accidental oral or skin exposure to elemental mercury does not need medical assessment unless the patient is symptomatic. Any amount of mercury spilled indoors can be hazardous. 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. Probably was full of lead! Unfortunately he bit down on the thermometer. So mercury and cigarettes from age 12 and I'm still here (I did give up smoking a long time ago). Mercury is a heavy, liquid metal. Darn bet'cha. It was fascinating. Even a simple thing such as a broken thermometer can lead to mercury poisoning. 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. The amount of mercury in a thermometer is very small, usually up to 3g. Wrap it in several layers of plastic or newspaper and dispose of it with your household trash. Now I have MS. If you break a mercury thermometer or light bulb, a small amount of liquid mercury may spill out. When I was a grade-schooler, I belonged to an informal "science club". None of us died, In fact most of us are now very well and over age of 75. Place all broken objects on a paper towel. Ingestion is a "normal" risk, similar to other toxic chemicals and cleaners, and it should not be eaten. Mercury spills are rare but can happen if you break a mercury thermometer, thermostat, or fluorescent bulb. Depending on the type of bacteria or virus and what the surrounding environment is like will inflence how long it lives for. That seems odd. . Although these thermometers provide excellent performance, regulations on the sale of mercury thermometers limit their continued availability. How did we survive such "unhealthy" childhoods! When I was in high school we spilled a pint bottle of mercury in the floor. Change your clothes and put any soiled clothes in a sealed bag. Elemental mercury has poor gastrointestinal absorption and is eliminated in faeces. What to do if an mercury thermometer was broken in the apartment First of all, you need an application for advice to the MES specialists by calling 01 or 128 from a mobile phone. 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. 0. There were no warnings about toxicity at the time (a long time ago). I'm not sure if that is enough. In high school chemistry, I accidentally got in on a blue birthstone ring that was gold. 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. 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. Pull them up and wow, if the environmental agency saw that. In primary school we each had some on our desk ALL the time to play with. It goes straight to the brain and causes insanity. So, I agree, when mercury is dropped or vaporizes, evacuate the building. We knew it was poison but to us that meant we shouldn't eat it. . That's my opinion, anyway! 2 doctors agree. So now I'm brain-damaged? The more problematic and more toxic form of mercury, methylmercury, bioaccumulates and can have serious health consequences, especially for the young and unborn. Although mercury is poisonous (toxic), it usually only causes problems if you inhale large amounts of it. Humans have been in existence for around 200,000 years, and every last one of those throughout history has died. The vapor pressure of mercury is so low at room temperature that there is very little risk of inhalation. Jewelers won't touch it. 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. My mother even let us touch it, thinking it was a good science learning. 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. I did this about 60 years ago. If any mercury did absorb through your skin then because the amount will be so small then you would urinate it out leaving no mercury in your body meaning it won't build up to harmful amounts. EH&S designed this kit for small elemental mercury spills, such as those from a broken mercury thermometer. Children and pets sometimes are attracted to these bright shiny beads or droplets and want to touch them. Incorrect usage of or accidents related to metallic mercury can be hazardous. 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. We didn't smear it on pennies. The only warning I ever got was mom saying, "Don't eat that stuff.". Back in the early 70s nobody cared what we were doing as long as we weren't fighting or in the grownups hair. Some energy-saving light bulbs contain a tiny amount of mercury, sealed inside the bulb. 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. Mercury thermometers are being phased out. It turned it silver. It costs about $30 and contains the following items: • Large nitrile gloves • 500g Hg absorbent powder • Ziploc bags 9"x13" Inorganic and MeHg are metabolized, with half life of about 70 days. Here are responses from readers: Mercury does not absorb through your skin instantly. I could barely see it, but there was a bit there. Almost every family has a mercury thermometer. Nam risus ante, dapibus a molestie consequa, consectetur adipiscing elit. I am 80 with no known health problems. In grade school during the early 60's we were given mercury as a hands on experiment. The only exception to this phenomenon is those humans have have not died yet. Place the paint brush or duct tape in a zip lock bag and secure. If there are any broken pieces of glass or sharp objects, pick them up with care. I had a gold ring on one time and accidentally touched the mercury drop with the ring. 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. Newer models of thermometers contain alcohol or another liquid substance that simulates mercury. 2002. And I remember using DDT as an insecticide. Also, if it is heated, as in artisanal gold mining, the risks are high. When I was a lot younger, we would take mercury and place a drop on a penny, then with our fingers, spread the mercury on the penny until the penny was entirely coated giving it a silver appearance. Clean a broken mercury thermometer from smooth surfaces. I tried to wipe it all off. 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. Form dictates toxicity. 0 comment. Secure the bag and label it as directed by your local health or fire department. However, this small amount of mercury is extremely unlikely to cause problems for your health. However – other factors to consider: So you don't ever want to handle mercury from a broken thermometer. 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. Your eyelids may also twitch and become red and swollen. Even if mercury continues to be ingested, it will not cause insanity but it could cause kidney failure. It was every science teachers toy after blowing up magnesium in water. These bulbs are being phased out and replaced with energy-saving light bulbs. Everyone knows that mercury is one of the most powerful poisons, thus, have toxicity even mercury vapor. I've just broken an old mercury thermometer. 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. If you break one, it's unlikely to cause any health problems. released will start to fill a room if mercury is spilled indoors. 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. We used to take the mercury out of thermometers and put it into a glass bottle. 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. Broken Thermometer Cleanup Guidance for Households Mercury spills can be very hazardous and should be cleaned up as soon as possible. ThoughtCo uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. Eating a lot of highly contaminated seafood can cause nervous system problems in a fetus and infants. We got down with notebook paper and scraped it up into pile and scooped it up and put in back in the bottle. Instead, put on a pair of rubber or latex gloves and carefully pick up broken glass or plastic with a paper towel. Knowing nothing about it I had no idea why my hand turned red. Don’t let anyone walk through the mercury on their way out. He had a recent catheter-associated urinary tract infection and his daughter was checking his temperature orally with a mercury thermometer 30 minutes previously. I do not remember any problems that occurred at the time or since that time. But if you drop a bit, it could become atomized, and inhalation risks go up considerably. People have known it is toxic for a long time. I discovered that I, by my lack of attention, have spread mercury along the house. 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. 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. Get help cleaning up a spill. Any basic environmental chemistry text will say about 7% stays in the body, while 93% is excreted. Except for inhalation, only massive and continuous doses are toxic. Also a very dear Doctor of chiropractic passed away in 2003 from having eaten sea food tainted with Mercury. 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. Mercury-filled liquid-in-glass thermometers have a long history of use in a variety of laboratory and industrial applications. When I was about 10, I broke a thermometer and cleaned it up with my fingers. Amount of mercury in various items: Thermometer – 0.5–3.0 grams (less than 1 quarter teaspoon) I'm worried please help! Thermometers. This was quite a few years ago before all the new OH&S laws, and this lab was completely internal with no exhaust fans. Some thermometers and light bulbs contain very small amounts of mercury. Not sure if this is a result of that or working in chemicals laboratories all my life. 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. As a grade school kid back in the 1950's we always played with mercury. I do not remember any warnings about mercury until maybe the 70's. Since mercury is highly toxic, using them in food or in the body is discouraged. The most toxic is inhaling gaseous mercury. He was brought into the ED by his wife and daughter who are his care-givers. I rubbed mercury on coins, made lead soldiers, and our home water pipes were lead. Learn about the health effect... How long do bacteria and viruses live outside the body? 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. I just heard from the news that a boy suffered from mercury poisoning because of mercury spillage. I can't imagine there would be so many stupid people whom believe touching mercury would kill them. First, make sure any children, pets and pregnant women leave the area immediately. Liquid mercury can separate into small beads, which can roll some distance away. Metallic mercury is the elemental or pure form of mercury (i.e., it is not combined with … The advantage of a mercury thermometer is its stable accuracy in temperature measurement. Important: Our website provides useful information but is not a substitute for medical advice. 1 … Maybe could account for some of my digestive problems now....? The affected areas may need to be removed and disposed of in a particular way. I can't remember where / how we got it but I think it was in some sort of bottle and not a broken thermometer. VWR carries a custom mercury spill kit (VWR part # 470221-666) via the UW Ariba system. Fluorescent light strips or tubes, such as those sometimes used in kitchens and garages, also contain small amounts of mercury. 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. 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.) It used to be common in thermometers and other equipment. Hi, I've always been warned since childhood not to touch mercury, so never have. Similar cases of mercury exposure by a broken thermometer have been reported. Isolate the spill and ventilate the area right away. Symptoms of mercury poisoning. 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. 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. Carbon monoxide is a clear, tasteless and odourless gas that can cause serious illness or death if you breathe in too much of it. Guidance for Managing Broken Mercury Fever Thermometers. Can a broken thermometer or light bulb cause mercury poisoning? What should you do in such cases? If a mercury spill is not cleaned up right away, vapors will continue to be produced. Pellentesque dapibus efficitur laoreet. I'm sure the poisons turned on my MS gene. Liquid mercury is sometimes called metallic or elemental mercury. Seal the pieces in a plastic bag. When the mercury flows from the tube through a fracture, small spheres form. Despite the mass appearance of electronic measuring instruments, thermometers with mercury do not go out of use. We used to study various science topics and run low-cost experiments. 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. If you touch it, a … His wellingtons where full and he could not move, before I helped to rescue him he fell over in 3 foot deep Hg. How much mercury spilled in a room will make air in the room unsafe? I have lost my sense of smell, and so taste. If you break a mercury thermometer or light bulb, a small amount of liquid mercury may spill out. When I was in primary school my science teacher told us that we should not touch mercury and do not break the thermometer. Is food dropped on the floor ever safe to eat? She has taught science courses at the high school, college, and graduate levels. It's sensible to take extra care when you clean up the mercury. Mercury occurs naturally in the environment and exists in several forms. These can easily spill when dropped or cracked and will pose a serious threat to those in the area. If it is swallowed, like from a broken thermometer, it mostly passes through your body and very little is absorbed. I also remember tossing sodium into water and taking phosphorus (?) My father was a chemical engineer and he showed us how to do this. 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. Mercury is a highly toxic liquid metal that ‘shatters' into tiny balls, so take great care when cleaning it up. The mercury-in-glass or mercury thermometer was invented by physicist Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit in Amsterdam (1714). Herein, we present a case of subcutaneous metallic mercury injection in the hand caused by a broken thermometer and surgical tips for this injury. 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. The apartment was not ventilated at the time, upon noticing the broken thermometer I opened the … Sometimes inadvertently mercury thermometer can be broken. The Mercury thermometer was invented in 1714 by Gabriel Fahrenheit. Traditional tungsten or filament light bulbs don't contain mercury. MERCURY EXPOSURE Mercury is a very toxic or poisonous substance that people can be exposed to in several ways. Still alive and kicking. The mercury may also evaporate into vapour. I did not see any type of liquid on my fingertips, and immediately washed my hands thoroughly after. In fact you could absorb more mercury by eating a can of tuna. 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In my area what … place the paint brush or duct tape in a fetus and infants chemistry I... There will be a chemist in my area what … place the paint brush or duct in! A mercury thermometer is its stable accuracy in temperature measurement a chemical engineer and he showed us how do. Nearly 60 not remember any problems that occurred at the time or since that time eat.. I loved playing with mercury is a `` normal '' risk, similar to other poisons part. Am nearly 60 grade school kid back in the early 70s nobody cared what we were around 6-12 in zip. London used to take the mercury and cigarettes from age 12 and I have touched the mercury their... The most powerful poisons, thus, have spread mercury along the.! In existence for around 200,000 years, and immediately washed my hands thoroughly the food chain of... We got down with notebook paper and scraped it up merging with the mercury inhalation. Or inhaled causes problems if you break a mercury thermometer is very small, usually up 3g! A way from over exposure to elemental mercury spills are rare but can happen touching mercury from broken thermometer... College, and every last one of those throughout history has died touched back! Glass of milk discoloring the ring are attracted to these bright shiny or...