Mercury Spill - Mercury is Extremely Dangerous

September 19th, 2015 | in Abatement Services

Elemental mercury is a hazardous material that is designated as having reproductive critical effects. Liquid mercury is a highly toxic chemical that’s commonly found in thermometers, barometers, float valves, switches, relays and electric components. Liquid mercury evaporates at room temperature, its vapors are invisible and odorless and is a very challenging contaminant to cleanup - decontamination objectives must be thorough. Enviro-Vac’s experience in mercury decontamination helps our clients maintain the safest environment possible, avoid potential long-term hazards associated with mercury contamination and helps reduce short- and long-term costs.

The most common form of a mercury spill is in liquid form. When spilled, the small beads that form are difficult to pick up and contain, and procedures should be developed accordingly to insure workers are protected and do not come in contact with the contaminated area without wearing proper protection. Depending on the conditions, the majority of the spilled mercury can be cleaned up with a specialized mercury recovery vacuum. There can be embedded mercury contamination remaining as mercury amalgamates well with some metals. Cleaning up the remaining embedded mercury with special solutions is important because mercury vapor can be released if any elemental mercury is present after the mercury spill cleanup is completed.

Due to its unique characteristics, mercury requires a unique and methodical approach to cleanup. In the event of a spill, it’s important for companies and individuals to follow the proper procedure towards cleanup; otherwise, there’s a greater risk of mercury poisoning for those who come into contact with the substance.

Only trained personnel should clean up a mercury spill

You should never attempt to clean a mercury spill using a standard vacuum cleaner as vacuum cleaner will force microscopic particles of the mercury into the air rather than keeping it contained and worsen the contamination. Another mistake is sweeping it with a broom, doing that will also spread the contamination.

A mercury spill requires quick action. Our experienced decontamination teams use sophisticated techniques and special equipment to clean up a mercury spill. In the event of a Mercury spill or a suspected spill, it is critical that swift action be taken as the substance is corrosive in liquid form and toxic if inhaled or ingested. We recommend the following steps be taken as soon as possible:

  • Evacuate and isolate the affected area and notify anyone that was present in the area of the mercury spill. They should have their clothes bagged and alternative clothing be provided to them before they leave the site.
  • Notify appropriate agencies.
  • Collect a list of names of any people that were present at the time of the mercury spill. All of those people must be contacted as soon as possible, so that any cross contamination can be contained.
  • Call Enviro-Vac to schedule immediate decontamination of affected area.

Enviro-Vac has performed mercury remediation projects ranging in size from thermometer spills to decontamination in large industrial settings.

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