What To Do In The Event Of A Mercury Spill

Friday 26th March 2021

Sophie Rioch

No comments, yet!

CONTENTS

Though incredibly rare, mercury spillages do happen. If a mercury spill were to take place in your home, would you know what to do?

It’s unlikely that you would.

Many of us do not realise the extent to which mercury is used in everyday objects. From light bulbs to thermometers, mercury is widely recognised as a source of power. Yet, the dangers of mercury are hardly brought to the surface

Most people are not aware of the hazardous nature of mercury. In fact, many are of the opinion that they do not need to know. However, in the event of a mercury spill, it’s crucial that the situation is handled in a safe, orderly manner. Else, the risk of injury will be high.

Dangers of mercury spillages

Mercury is an incredibly dangerous chemical, regarded as a biohazard by global authorities. Exposure to mercury – even small amounts – can cause serious health problems.

The World Health Organization (WHO) considers mercury one of the most harmful chemicals of major public health concern. Direct contact or inhalation of mercury can have toxic effects on the human body, and should be avoided at all costs.

There are several factors which will determine the severity of mercury-related health problems. These include:

  • The state of mercury
  • The quantity of mercury
  • The duration of exposure
  • The age and general health of the person(s) involved
  • The route of exposure (inhalation, ingestion, physical contact, etc.)

What many people do not realise is that, if left at room temperature, exposed mercury can evaporate to become an invisible, odourless vapour. This makes the element difficult to detect, heightening the risk of health complications.

Physical contact

Direct contact with mercury in liquid form is likely to cause irritation and chemical burns. Your skin may become also become clammy.

If you do happen to come into physical contact with mercury, it’s best to seek immediate medical attention. Whilst waiting for an ambulance, wash your skin with warm water for at least 15 minutes to remove as much of the substance as possible.

It’s likely that the mercury will leave behind permanent stains on your clothing and other surfaces. Therefore, any contaminated items should be removed and disposed of accordingly.

Some symptoms may take a while to appear, so even if you feel fine initially, you may suffer as time goes on. Mercury has been known to affect your mental state too, so you may not be the best judge of character in the moment.

Inhalation

Inhalation of mercury vapours can be exceptionally dangerous. There is a high possibility that the toxic vapours will affect your immune system, digestive system, kidney or lungs.

You may experience:

  • Memory loss
  • Insomnia
  • Tremors
  • Headaches
  • Motor dysfunction
  • Neuromuscular effects

In extreme cases, inhalation can be fatal.

How to prevent incidents

In the event of an oil spill, you should call for professional assistance immediately. Whilst waiting for help to arrive, there are a number of steps you can take to prevent incidents.

If you haven’t already, evacuate the affected area. You should leave the site as soon as possible to minimise the risk of exposure and ensure no mercury touches your clothes, shoes or skin. Any contaminated layers of clothing should be removed and disposed of accordingly.

Before you leave the site, don’t forget to turn your air conditioning off. Whilst it’s fine to open windows to allow toxic vapours to escape, an air conditioning unit will encourage contaminated air to circulate within the property.

Once you’ve cleared the site, make sure to barricade the area to stop others from entering. You can do this by putting signs up around the vicinity or physically blocking access to the area.

If the spill has taken place in a domestic setting, extra caution must be taken. Children are unlikely to realise the dangers of mercury, so will not know to avoid the spill. They may even be fascinated by it. Either way, it’s crucial to keep children and pets away at all times.

What if you cannot leave the property?

If you’re unable to remove yourself from the affected area, try to cover your face and skin. Ideally, some form of rubber, latex or nitrile gloves and a filtered face mask should be worn.

Whilst your main concern might be the mercury itself, beware of sharp items in the property. For example, if a thermometer has broken, there may be shattered glass on the ground too.

You should not attempt to move or pick up sharp items without adequate protective gear. Do not attempt to vacuum or dispose of mercury or other contaminated items without professional assistance, as this could result in injury (Department of Health).

A professional mercury clean-up company will know how to handle and dispose of potential hazards, so leave it to them. They’ll also have access to specialist tools and equipment, including personal protective equipment (PPE).

The clean-up process

Once the experts have arrived on site, they will first seal off any affected areas to prevent the wider public from getting in harm’s way. The aim of any hazardous chemical clean-up crew is to maintain a safe working environment at all times.

Here at ICE Cleaning, we handle mercury spills in 4 steps:

1.    Contain the mercury

We’ll use specialist equipment to contain all traces of mercury. The sooner we’re called to the site, the easier the element will be to contain.

Failure to contain the mercury could lead to further spread of toxic vapours.

2.    Extract the mercury from the site

Once contained, we’ll use professional tools to extract the mercury from the site.

Due to its hazardous nature, mercury must be handled and transported in line with strict health and safety regulations.

3.    Dispose of the mercury

The mercury must also be disposed of in accordance with industry regulations. The chemical contains toxic

Our technicians have undergone thorough health and safety training to understand the risks involved with a variety of biohazards, including mercury, and are fully certified to safely dispose of such elements.

4.    Decontaminate the affected area

After the mercury has been dealt with, the entire site must be decontaminated. From this, we intend to leave behind a clean, safe environment for all parties involved.

Following the clean-up process, we request that you open windows to ventilate the area. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests that windows should remain open for at least 24 hours after clean-up.

Get in touch

To find out more about our mercury clean-up process, give our friendly support team a call on 0208 066 0360 or email us on enquiries@icecleaning.co.uk. We’re available around the clock and can be on site in just 60 minutes in an emergency.

Mercury spills should not be treated lightly, which is why we’ll only send qualified technicians to the site. Our technicians hold a number of professional accreditations, such as Safe Contractor and IOSH. We’re also a member of BICSc.

Comment
Zoe Dunning

Zoe Dunning

Sales Representative

Add to contacts

Speak with me today,
I’m here to help

By asking you a few questions either via phone or email I can immediately provide a realistic estimation of the cost.

You’re in good company. We’ve cleaned for the following commercial clients… View all

Customer reviews

Our happy customers have rated our service as
4.9 on Google.

View All Reviews

Neil Craig

Star Star Star Star Star

4 months ago

Sub contracted via Thames Water to clean up after a sewage spill on a commercial property. Exceptional service with good communication before and…

Read more

Posted on Google

Sam Friskey

Star Star Star Star Star

4 months ago

Fantastic service from beginning to end. With the return of our workforce back to the office, it was essential that we found a solution that allayed…

Read more

Posted on Google

Simon Irwin

Star Star Star Star Star

5 months ago

Very good, hard working and great end result.

Read more

Posted on Google

Steph Cazzato

Star Star Star Star Star

5 months ago

Great service and very thorough job to clean mould from our bathroom. Would use again

Read more

Posted on Google

Kayleigh Weston

Star Star Star Star Star

5 months ago

Great service, very reliable and very professional. Would highly recommend. Thanks again for all of your help.

Read more

Posted on Google

Angela Edwards

Star Star Star Star Star

5 months ago

Great experience with this company. Good communication and very professional.

Read more

Posted on Google

Serenity Point

Star Star Star Star Star

5 months ago

Fantastic service provided by ICE Cleaning Solutions. Prompt and speedy to remedy our drainage problem and they resolved the issue within 1 hour. We…

Read more

Posted on Google

Sarah Curtis

Star Star Star Star Star

5 months ago

Professional, and very quick!

Read more

Posted on Google

James Justice

Star Star Star Star Star

5 months ago

After being messed around by my Water provider. ICE Cleaning were extremely efficient and pro-active in sorting out our issue. The service was…

Read more

Posted on Google

Manan Zahid

Star Star Star Star Star

5 months ago

Great service in much needed time. Andy from ICE Cleaning with his colleague did great job to clear mess of sewer waste. All foul water drained back…

Read more

Posted on Google

Donna Stevens

Star Star Star Star Star

5 months ago

Very professional and done a great job!

Read more

Posted on Google

Simon Smith

Star Star Star Star Star

5 months ago

Once the clean up was organised ICE Cleaning services were very efficient and did a good job and telephone staff Jo was very helpful.

Read more

Posted on Google

W. Lew

Star Star Star Star Star

5 months ago

I am very pleased with the cleaning service from this company. My job was a difficult one - I had sewage flooding from a blocked shared pipe and it…

Read more

Posted on Google

Ben Braithwaite

Star Star Star Star Star

5 months ago

ICE Cleaning came to clean up after a sewage leak. The service was fast and efficient, and ICE Cleaning communicated well throughout.

Read more

Posted on Google

Eva Gadabu

Star Star Star Star Star

5 months ago

Had a mould problem in the bathroom and ICE Cleaning took care of it in a very efficient, professional and caring manner. The 2 technicians even gave…

Read more

Posted on Google

Nicola Dooley

Star Star Star Star Star

5 months ago

ICE Cleaning did a very good and thorough job. I would use again.

Read more

Posted on Google

Estelle Thompson

Star Star Star Star Star

5 months ago

ICE Cleaning were contracted to clean my fathers headstone. He passed away 21 years ago and we hadn’t had the headstone professionally cleaned…

Read more

Posted on Google

Brenda Worth

Star Star Star Star Star

5 months ago

Operatives were polite, thorough and a credit to their company. Excellent result. Left site clean and tidy.

Read more

Posted on Google

Alexis Hooper

Star Star Star Star Star

5 months ago

Very professional company and I will continue to use them.

Read more

Posted on Google

David Beverley

Star Star Star Star Star

5 months ago

ICE Cleaning came to clear up a sewage overflow caused by a blockage in a drain shared by 5 properties. The job was ordered by Thames Water who are…

Read more

Posted on Google

We’re fully accredited

We place best practise, professional expertise and health and safety at the core of our business. We’re fully compliant with all legal obligations. You can view a list of our accreditations below, or visit our Health & Safety page for more information.

CSCS
BICSc
IOSH
SafeContractor
Dewpoint® Professional
IPAF
NACSC
0208 066 0360Open 24/7
Close

We use cookies

If you continue without changing your settings we'll assume you're happy to receive our cookies.
If you'd like to change this just update your browser settings. Find out more.

Okay. I got it.