described the algorithm of actions if the thermometer broke and mercury fell on the floor.
Mercury thermometers are prohibited in many countries of the world due to the health hazards of mercury. Mercury thermometers are very popular in Ukraine. Every tool owner needs to know what to do if a thermometer breaks, because it can happen to anyone.
How dangerous is mercury
Mercury is a volatile metal that begins to evaporate quickly at room temperature outside the container. Mercury vapors enter the lungs and accumulate in the body. If mercury is not removed and disposed of, the metal slowly accumulates in the body and causes poisoning.
Animals and small children can also swallow mercury balls out of curiosity. It is not as dangerous as breathing in mercury vapor, because the metal is almost not absorbed from the digestive tract and is excreted in the feces. But it is still better not to allow this.
Symptoms of mercury poisoning are most often as follows: headache, weakness, loss of appetite, metallic taste in the mouth, nausea and vomiting, tremors in the hands. If mercury accumulates in large quantities, major disturbances in the functioning of all internal organs may occur.
What to do if the thermometer is broken – the first steps
- First of all, remove all animals and children from the room where the thermometer broke.
- Close the doors to other rooms to keep the mercury out.
- Open the windows to make the room cooler – mercury evaporates faster in warm weather. But do not allow a draft so that the mercury balls do not fly around the room.
- Prepare a solution – 1 liter of water, 40 g of grated soap and 30 g of soda. Wet rags in the solution and cover the place where the thermometer broke. Wipe your shoes on a rag so as not to spread mercury around the house.
- Put gloves on your hands, and a disposable mask on your face.
How to properly collect mercury
You will see many shiny gray balls where the thermometer broke. Mercury collects in such balls in the fresh air. To avoid metal poisoning, the balls must be collected in a jar and properly disposed of.
Take a jar with a volume of 0.5-1 l and pour water to the bottom. Put the broken thermometer and mercury there. Mercury can be collected using a pipette or ordinary tape. Mercury can also be brushed onto paper with a brush or cotton wool, and shaken from the paper into a jar.
It is absolutely impossible to collect mercury with a broom, vacuum cleaner or brush. Not only will this permanently ruin the thing, but it will spread the mercury more strongly all over the floor.
First, collect the large drops of mercury, then look around. Small balls of mercury can roll under furniture or carpet. This mercury must also be collected. Shine a flashlight around to find all the mercury – the metal will shine brightly.
If the mercury got on some fabric or on the carpet – unfortunately, this item or part of the carpet will have to be disposed of together with the mercury.
How to dispose of a broken thermometer and mercury
Call the emergency service (number 112) or the nearest emergency service and tell them that your thermometer has broken. In Kyiv, you can call the rescue service number 430-37-13.
A demercurization team will be sent to your home. Employees will take away the can with mercury and all the poisoned places, and will also help to further treat the place where the thermometer broke.
Treatment of the room after breaking the thermometer
After cleaning, ventilate the room and wash the shoes and floor with a soap-soda solution. Also take care of yourself: take a shower, brush your teeth and rinse your mouth with a soda solution.
During the week after the event, drink more fluids and regularly ventilate the room. This will help the mercury vapors to evaporate if you suddenly did not collect all the metal.