2 Mercury is a Hazardous Material Mercury (Hg) is defined as a hazardous material by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
3 Mercury is a Toxic Substance Moreover, mercury is a toxic substance that can result in severe health effects. Therefore, all mercury "spills," including droplets of mercury from a broken laboratory thermometer, need to be cleaned up following safe and environmentally sound procedures.
4 Who do you Contact?Anyone who has questions regarding mercury or spill procedures should contact their professor, a laboratory supervisor, their own supervisor, or the UWM Department of Environmental Health, Safety and Risk Management.
5 Contain SpillPrevent the spread of mercury when cleaning up a mercury spill.Mercury beads can splash and roll around.Secure the area around the spill, so the mercury does not get "tracked" or "kicked" around.
6 Restrict AreaCease activities and keep the area restricted until the entire spill is cleaned up.
7 Mercury VacuumA special vacuum cleaner is available which is designed to pick up mercury droplets safely.
8 Location of Mercury Vacuum For Chemistry Department staff, the vacuum is available for use and located in the second floor stockroom. Contact the stockroom personnel when it is needed.Other departments should contact EHSRM for assistance with spill clean-up
9 Use of Mercury VacuumThe stockroom personnel will either clean up the spill or instruct you in the proper use of the mercury vacuum. UWM Environmental Health, Safety and Risk Management staff may also be called for assistance.
10 Temporary ControlIf the mercury vacuum is not readily available, cover the spill with sulfur or zinc powder as a temporary control measure.Cover from the perimeter of the spill toward the center. Do not walk through the spill or the sulfur or zinc powder.
11 Mercury Vapor Analyzer A mercury vapor analyzer is used to determine the extent of the contamination
12 Mercury Vapor Analyzer The detector registers the level of mercury vapor in the air
13 Air MonitoringAir monitoring should be used in conjunction with the mercury vacuum to ensure the complete removal of mercury.
14 Special CareSpecial attention must be taken in cleaning cracks and crevices where the mercury may have settled
15 Specialty WipesAll visible mercury beads are collected using the mercury vacuum followed by specialty wipes.
16 Mercury BeadsMercury beads easily enter cracks and crevices.
17 Sulfur Impregnated Cloths Sulfur impregnated cloths may be used for a final wipe down of the area being cleaned
18 Spill Response Personnel The mercury vapor analyzer may also be used to determine if contamination has spread to spill-response personnel.
19 Spill Response Personnel This procedure is repeated after the gloves have been removed.
20 Mercury WasteMercury waste and all waste materials contaminated with mercury must be labeled and turned over to the UWM Chemical Safety and Hazardous Waste Management Program
21 DisposalNo mercury, including broken thermometers, may be disposed of in the normal trash or into the sewer system.
22 Assistance After Hours If no help is available, contact the University Police (9-911 in an emergency or x4627 if non-emergency) and explain that you have a mercury spill.Try to indicate whether the spill is small, a broken thermometer, or large, more than 1 or 2 ml (1/4 teaspoon).
23 After HoursThe police will contact an EHSRM 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 and wait until response personnel arrive (usually 30 to 60 minutes). Otherwise the area will be secured until the next working day.
24 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.
25 Mercury Spill Clean-Up 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.