How to Deal with a Mercury Spillage

Friday 26th November 2021

Alice Redshaw

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CONTENTS

Mercury is a neurotoxin that can spread through air quickly, especially if the room temperature is just right. If exposed to the element for a prolonged period, it can result in you suffering from serious health conditions.

When a mercury spillage occurs, it must be dealt with immediately by professionals to prevent harm to people and the environment.

Although Statista shows that levels of mercury emissions have fallen dramatically in recent years, it can still be overwhelming when affected by a mercury spillage due to its high levels of toxicity.

We have provided some useful information about the potential implications of being exposed to mercury, as well as what the mercury removal process involves.

What mercury was used for historically

Named after the planet, the element mercury has been used widely for over a thousand years. According to Britannica, mercury was present in Egypt going as far back as 1500 BCE.

One of its main uses in history has been for medical purposes, although the Romans also used mercury mines to punish their slaves. This would have led to disastrous health implications.

Mercury still has public utility nowadays, but luckily, we now have better knowledge of its toxicity and how it should be contained.

What mercury is used for nowadays

A naturally occurring element, mercury is found in air, soil, and water. Due to its versatile composition, mercury is present in a range of settings:

  • Fluorescent bulbs
  • High-pressure sodium lamps
  • Speciality lamps
  • Lighthouses
  • Batteries
  • Thermometers

Mercury is safe when it is contained but becomes dangerous when it is spilt. This can lead to serious health issues if not disposed of correctly.

Health issues associated with mercury poisoning

As a harmful toxin, coming into contact with mercury can cause you serious health implications. It enters your body through wounds or inhalation.

Elemental mercury is a metal that is liquid when at room temperature and has been known as quicksilver in the past due to its colour. It can attack the central nervous system, cause respiratory issues and renal damage amongst other parts of the body.

Inorganic mercury tends to be less toxic than elemental mercury, but may still lead to cardiovascular issues, renal damage, your skin/eyes and can cause problems for your digestive system. More information on the toxicology and health impacts of mercury can be found in this asset published by Public Health England.

What to do in the event of a mercury spillage

Most importantly, the affected area must be evacuated immediately. You should also make sure that the mercury has not spilled onto any item of clothing, including shoes. This is so that it remains contained in one area.

Where possible, decrease the temperature and close doors in the contaminated space to limit the possibility of the mercury spreading through the air.

Other actions to take include turning the air conditioning off to try and prevent the mercury spreading through the air, as well as barricading the affected area.

Do not try to use a vacuum to hoover up the mercury without the help of a professional. Also be cautious of sharp items that may be present, which shouldn’t be removed without the right personal protective equipment.

If you cannot leave the area, you should try and protect your skin and face by wearing latex, nitrile, or rubber gloves. A protective face mask is also advisable.

For a useful visual representation of what you should do if you encounter mercury, please click here.

Actions professionals will take 

A professional mercury cleaning company is needed to deal with a spillage larger than one pound because of the toxicity of the element. Industry regulations state that if a mercury spillage is above this, then the situation is dangerous and dire.

In the cleaning process, mercury must be treated with a professional cleaning solution that is suitable for hazardous chemicals. It then needs to be disposed of at an authorised hazardous removal site.

Our expert services will put you at ease 

Once you book in with us, we will conduct a survey of the mercury spillage site to assess the damage. During this, all COVID-19 safety procedures will be strictly adhered to.

Our mercury removal team will also perform a risk assessment to prevent any unexpected issues arising during the cleaning process.

To ensure you are satisfied with the work, our professionals will document the whole process and follow all government regulations. If you are happy with the job, we will provide you a certificate containing a guarantee.

Methods we use as a mercury removal company

The equipment used in the mercury removal process will depend on the seriousness of the spillage. To assess the mercury levels in the affected area, a vapour analyser is required. This will give you an idea of the threat it poses to your health and the environment.

Our mercury removal services will use a specialised hoover to remove any trace of the element from the contaminated area. In the event of a more serious spillage, a powder is also used. This forces the liquid to crumble.

If you call us today, our dedicated customer service team can give you a detailed run-through of what services we offer, and help you get booked in.

Other hazardous removal services we offer 

Our teams are also qualified to deal with other specialist hazard removal, such as bromine. This is used as an agricultural pesticide as well as in the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals and should only be managed by professionals.

If you find yourself affected by a bromine leak, we can help you. Our customer service team are available 24/7 to answer all your queries and to book in your service.

Additionally, as chemical spill cleaning specialists, we are on hand to assist you regardless of the severity of the situation. Find out more information about the services we offer here.

Get in touch

If you would like to hear more about the mercury spillage services we offer, please contact us on 0208 066 0360 or enquiries@icecleaning.co.uk.

We can be on-site within an hour to assess the damage caused by hazardous spills to ensure that you and your loved ones remain safe.

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