Health Risks Associated With Mercury

Wednesday 12th October 2022

Alice Redshaw

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CONTENTS

Mercury is a toxic compound that is liquid at room temperature. It has been used historically in equipment such as barometers, thermometers and dental amalgam.

The element is usually a silvery-white colour and freezes at -38.83 degrees Celsius into a soft solid, according to Britannica

Should you spill any mercury, call in a specialist cleaning company to help you. At ICE Cleaning, we work hard to restore your site to a safe environment, and carry out high-quality mercury cleaning services nationwide. 

Continue reading our blog to find out the health risks associated with mercury, how to minimise exposure to the chemical, and what to do if you experience a spill.

Health effects of elemental mercury

This type of mercury is also known as metallic mercury, and is mainly inhaled through vapours. Found in things such as dental amalgams, fluorescent lightbulbs and thermometer, it is dangerous for your health.

If you have come into contact with mercury, you should make an appointment with your GP. They will be able to discuss your symptoms in full with you, and advise you on the best course of treatment.

Health effects of exposure include:

  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Tremors
  • Kidney problems

These symptoms can have a significant impact on your every day life, and may even be life threatening. A mercury spillage should be taken seriously to protect your health.

If you're concerned about the impacts of mercury, learn more about its properties and uses in this article written by the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Dangers of inorganic mercury

When mercury joins with another compound it is classed as inorganic. It commonly reacts with cinnabar, which is a type of mineral. Inorganic mercury has historically been used in treatments and creams sold to the general public.

You usually ingest this kind of mercury, which can cause symptoms such as:

  • Problems with the digestive tract
  • Skin damage
  • Eye damage
  • Renal problems

If the compounds are soluble, you could experience a range of symptoms, from swollen gums and abdominal pain to irritability and weakness. 

This type of mercury is classed as a level 3 carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, meaning that the evidence of its carcinogenicity is not adequate.

Methylmercury risks

Methylmercury is a combination of mercury and carbon, and is very toxic. It is found in water systems, and enters your system when ingesting fish.

Risks to your health from methylmercury are numerous:

  • Blindness
  • Deafness
  • Impact on lung function

Those who are pregnant should be particularly careful around methylmercury, as unborn babies experience the effects of the chemical acutely.

How to minimise exposure to mercury

To minimise your exposure to mercury, there are several things you can do. For example, purchase a digital thermometer instead of one containing mercury. 

Be careful of the amount of fish you eat too, and follow all relevant guidelines, as different types of fish are known to contain mercury. For more detailed information about fish and mercury, have a read of this article written by Healthline.

At ICE Cleaning, we can dispose of any hazardous waste for you should you need it. Mercury is a dangerous element that needs to be removed from environments carefully to reduce the chances of exposure.

How to deal with a mercury spill

Due to mercury's toxicity, if it is spilled it needs to be contained immediately. If this happens, evacuate the area and put up signs notifying passers-by not to enter the affected location.

Where possible, open the windows to ventilate the room. Close all doors leading the spill as well.

Contacting a specialist mercury cleaning company is necessary to ensure the chemical is properly treated. At ICE Cleaning, we understand the dangers and complexities of a job such as this, and use the latest tools and solutions to remove mercury from the environment.

It is crucial that you do not attempt to clean the mercury up yourself, as you could end up making the situation worse or risk your health.  Other things you can do include turning off the air-conditioning to prevent the mercury vapours from spreading through the air, and refrain from vacuuming the chemical.

Read our blog on how to deal with mercury spills for a deeper understanding of the subject.

Our mercury spillage cleaning services

Upon first arriving on the scene, our technicians will conduct a risk assessment to establish what risks are present. 

We will test the space before undertaking an extraction. This is to identify the levels of mercury in the area. Following this, we use advanced technologies to remove the mercury, ensuring all residual spillage is dealt with.

We will test the levels after the extraction to check that the levels are safe. If you have any questions at any point throughout the process, please get in touch with our friendly support team.

Get in touch

Should you need assistance with a mercury spillage, contact our team today. Our team can ensure a quick response within emergencies, helping to minimise any risks.

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