Mercury spill

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1. Evacuate area

Remove everyone from the area that has been contaminated and shut the door. Turn off interior ventilation system to avoid dispersing mercury vapour throughout the facility.

2. Put on face mask

In order to prevent breathing of mercury vapour, wear a protective face mask.

3. Put on old clothes

Change into old clothes and shoes that can be discarded if they become contaminated.

4. Remove jewellery

Remove all jewellery from hands and wrists so that the mercury cannot combine (amalgamate) with the precious metals.

5. Wear gloves

Put on rubber or latex gloves. If there are any broken pieces of glass or sharp objects, pick them up with care. Place all broken objects on a paper towel. Fold the paper towel and place in a zip lock bag. Secure the bag and label it as containing items contaminated with mercury. When labelling bags, do so as directed by your local health or fire department to prevent confusion about contents.

6. Identify surface

Wood, linoleum, tile and any other like surfaces can easily be cleaned. Carpet, curtains, upholstery or other such surfaces cannot. These items should be thrown away according to the method outlined below. (For carpets, only the affected portion needs to be cut out and removed.)

7. Locate mercury beads

Locate all mercury beads, then carefully us the cardboard to gather them together. Use slow sweeping motions to prevent accidentally spreading the mercury. Small and hard-to-see beads can be located with the flashlight: hold it at a low angle close to the floor in a darkened room and look for additional glistening beads of mercury that may be sticking to the surface or have gathered in small cracks in the surface. Mercury can move a surprisingly long distance on hard and flat surfaces: be sure to carefully inspect the entire room.

8. Use eyedropper and sticky tape

Use an eyedropper or syringe (without a needle) to draw up the mercury beads. Slowly and carefully transfer the mercury into an unbreakable plastic container with an airtight lid (such as a plastic film canister). Place the container in a zip-lock bag. Label the bag as containing items contaminated with mercury. After you remove larger beads, use sticky tape to collect smaller hard-to-see beads. Place the sticky tape in a zip lock bag and secure. Powdered sulphur or zinc stains mercury a darker colour and can make smaller beads easier to see. Be careful not to breathe the powder, as it can be mildly toxic.

9. Leak-Proof Bag

Place all materials used during the cleanup, including gloves, into a leak-proof plastic bag or container. Seal and label it.

10. Final disposal

Contact your local waste manager responsible for toxic clean up and proper disposal to ensure that all mercury contaminated waste now secured in labelled bags is dealt with in accordance with national and EU legislation.

11. Outside ventilation

Keep the affected area ventilated to the outside (with windows open and ventilation running) for at least 24 hours after your successful cleanup. If sickness occurs, seek medical attention immediately.