How To Clean Up A Mercury Spill At Home

Friday 24th March 2023

Joanna Grimbley-Smith

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Broken thermometer leaking mercury CONTENTS

 

Mercury spills don’t just happen in school laboratories or workplaces where the heavy metal is used. There are lots of household products that contain the dangerous chemical which could spill in your property should one break.

Here at ICE Cleaning, we offer rapid response mercury clean up services. Our hazardous chemical cleaning specialists can handle any size and form of a spill, and are available wherever you are in the UK, 365 days a year.

Read on to find out what to do when mercury spills in your home.

What is mercury?

Elemental mercury is form of the metal that is a shiny, silvery liquid at room temperature. Quicksilver, as it is also known, can be found in many products like thermometers, barometers, blood pressure units, and compact fluorescent lightbulbs.

Most companies have phased out using mercury and opted for alternatives, like alcohol, to keep consumers safe.

At room temperature, elemental mercury evaporates into an invisible and odourless toxic vapour. It can break into smaller droplets that can easily roll away, too, and slip into crevices.

Quick removal of all the mercury following a spill – including hidden droplets – is essential to making your property safe again.

What are the dangers of a mercury spill in your home?

Inhaling mercury vapour for a few hours can cause health problems such as coughing, breathlessness, nausea, and a tight chest. Long-term exposure can lead to more serious issues, including damage to your kidneys and central nervous system.

Mercury spills outside of a laboratory are especially hazardous. In a professional setting there are usually experts present that know what to do, such as how to contain the spillage and clean it up.

Without training or knowledge, you might make the situation more dangerous, like vacuuming up the spill.

There also may be people in the property that are especially at risk of exposure, such as children, pregnant women, women who are breastfeeding, and people with kidney disease.

What to do if mercury spills in your home?

Don’t attempt to clean it up yourself

It may be tempting to quickly wipe up a small puddle or follow instructions online to clear it up, but you should always leave it to the specialist cleaners.

Without the right personal protective equipment (PPE), you will be putting yourself in prolonged, close contact with the metal and are more likely to inhale the vapours.

You could also use the incorrect equipment to clean it, like a broom, which might spread it around and split it into small droplets. Mercury takes a long time to vapourise, so any that you miss will continue to put your health at risk.

Cleaners will have specialist equipment to thoroughly clean up the spill, including tools that can detect even the smallest traces of mercury, to ensure they remove all of it.

Mercury disposal is a very important step best left to the professionals, as well. You might assume you can wash it down the sink, for example, but this will contaminate your plumbing, septic tank, or sewage plant. They will know how to dispose of hazardous waste according to local regulations.

Contact mercury clean up companies immediately

Specialist cleaners will have the training and expertise to clean a mercury spillage safely and quickly. They will wear full PPE and follow strict health and safety guidelines to protect you and other residents throughout the process.

Professionals will also be able to find all the mercury, including droplets in small gaps and crevices, and remove every trace from your property. They will give you peace of mind that your property is safe, again.

What you should do after mercury spills

Although it is not recommended you clean up a spill yourself, there are things you can do to keep residents safe and speed up the cleaning process.

  • Ventilate the room by opening windows and doors that lead outside
  • Shut doors and windows that go to other rooms so the vapours don’t spread around the property
  • Lower the room temperature to reduce the chances of evaporation
  • Make sure no one enters the room containing the spillage

Contact us today

Our mercury cleaning specialists are fully permitted to handle and dispose of a range of dangerous chemicals, and can be on site in a matter of hours in an emergency.

To book our technicians for mercury spill cleaning, contact our friendly team at 0208 066 0360 or enquiries@icecleaning.co.uk.

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