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Mercury is a Hazardous Material

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Presentation on theme: "Mercury is a Hazardous Material"— Presentation transcript:

1 Department of University Safety & Assurances Mercury Spill Cleanup Procedures

2 Mercury is a Hazardous Material
Mercury (Hg) is a hazardous material as defined by: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources U.S. Dept. of Transportation US&A (v. 12/13)

3 Mercury is a Toxic Substance
Mercury poisoning can result in severe health problems affecting the nervous system and other organs. Tremors Changes in vision or hearing Insomnia Weakness Difficulty with memory Headaches Irritability Shyness and nervousness Acrodynia (painful extremities), a condition caused by chronic exposure to mercury US&A (v. 12/13)

4 Mercury Exposure & Prevention
Routes of exposure Inhalation Main hazard Evaporates releasing hazardous vapors Skin absorption Personal Protective Equipment Required Nitrile gloves Safety glasses Closed-toed shoes Lab coat US&A (v. 12/13)

5 Who do you Contact? Questions regarding mercury or spill procedures should be directed to: Professor Laboratory supervisor Own supervisor UWM Department of Safety & Assurances at x6339 Note: Any release greater than one pound (two tablespoons) to the environment is a Reportable Quantity. US&A (v. 12/13)

6 Spills Prevention is the best way to handle mercury spills.
All mercury "spills," including droplets of mercury from a broken lab thermometer, must be cleaned up following safe and environmentally sound procedures. US&A (v. 12/13)

7 Contain Spill Prevent the spread of mercury.
Trays should be used under equipment wherever a mercury spill is possible. Mercury beads can splash and roll around. Prevent mercury from entering cracks, crevices, and drains. Do not walk in area of spill. Evacuate room via route away from spill. US&A (v. 12/13)

8 Restricted Area Cease activities.
Secure the area around the spill, so the mercury does not get "tracked" or "kicked" around. Keep the area restricted until the entire spill is cleaned up. Lower room temperature to reduce evaporation. US&A (v. 12/13)

9 Temporary Control Spill powder may be used as a temporary control measure. Commercial spill kits. Mix 85 grams of finely powdered Sodium Thiosulfate with 15 grams of finely powdered EDTA. US&A (v. 12/13)

10 Cover from the perimeter of the spill toward the center.
Temporary Control Cover from the perimeter of the spill toward the center. Do not walk through the spill or spill powder. Pick-up glass and other large debris, then clean up mercury. All debris must be disposed of as hazardous waste. US&A (v. 12/13)

11 Mercury Vacuum A special vacuum cleaner, which is designed to pick up mercury droplets safely, is available for cleanup. NEVER use a regular vacuum. US&A (v. 12/13)

12 Location of Mercury Vacuum
Chemistry Department: Second floor stockroom. Contact the stockroom personnel when needed. Other departments: Contact University Safety & Assurances (x6339) for assistance with spill clean-up. US&A (v. 12/13)

13 Use of Mercury Vacuum The stockroom personnel will clean up the spill.
You may be trained in the proper use of the mercury vacuum. UWM Department of Safety & Assurances staff may also be called for assistance. US&A (v. 12/13)

14 Other Cleanup Tools A side-arm flask connected to a vacuum pump or sink aspirator can be used to vacuum up small beads. US&A (v. 12/13)

15 Other Cleanup Tools Wet toweling to consolidate small beads into larger pieces for vacuuming Commercial spill kits Disposable eyedropper Adhesive tape Cardboard US&A (v. 2/07)

16 Special Care Special attention must be given to cleaning cracks and crevices where the mercury beads may have easily settled. US&A (v. 12/13)

17 Mercury Waste Includes the mercury and all waste materials contaminated with mercury. Gloves and other contaminated debris. Must be placed in a labeled leak-proof, polyethylene container. US&A (v. 12/13)

18 Disposal No mercury, including broken thermometers, may be disposed of in the normal trash or into the sewer system. University Safety and Assurances will properly dispose of all waste. US&A (v. 12/13)

19 Assistance After Hours
If no help is available, contact the University Police. 9-911 in an emergency ( by cell phone) x4627 if non-emergency. Explain that you have a mercury spill. Indicate whether the spill is small, a broken thermometer, or large, more than 1 or 2 ml (1/4 teaspoon). US&A (v. 12/13)

20 Assistance After Hours
The police will contact a University Safety & Assurances staff member for assistance. If the spill is large or if it must be cleaned up right away, you will be directed to: Secure the area. Wait until response personnel arrive (usually 30 to 60 minutes). The area will be secured/off-limits until the next working day. US&A (v. 12/13)

21 Special Consideration
Large spills, spills in confined areas with poor ventilation, or spills in areas heated above room temperature must be addressed by trained personnel with protective equipment. A risk of high exposure to mercury vapors can occur in these situations. US&A (v. 12/13)

22 Mercury spills are very disruptive.
Summary Mercury spills are very disruptive. Lab personnel are encouraged to use extreme caution when using mercury or mercury-containing apparatus. Thorough decontamination is essential to ensure both personal safety and protection of the environment. US&A (v. 12/13)

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