What To Do When Mercury Spills On Carpet

Thursday 20th April 2023

Joanna Grimbley-Smith

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A clean carpet in a house CONTENTS

When mercury spills in your home, a quick and thorough clean up is essential to protect yours and others’ health. However, should it end up on carpet, making your property safe again is far more difficult.

Here at ICE Cleaning, we offer rapid response mercury clean up services. Our hazardous chemical clean-up specialists can remove all traces of the substance and dispose of the waste appropriately. They are available round the clock, 365 days a year.

Keep reading to find out what you must do should mercury spill on carpet.

What is mercury?

Elemental or metallic mercury is a shiny, silvery liquid metal. Quicksilver, as it is also known, evaporates into an odourless, invisible gas at room temperature which is very dangerous to inhale.

When dropped or touched, it splits into small droplets or beads which can slip into small cracks, roll along surfaces, and be absorbed into fabrics.

This form of mercury is still present in some household objects including thermometers and barometers, thermostats, compact fluorescent lightbulbs, LCD screens, and batteries.

Should any of these items break in your property, a small amount of mercury could spill out. However, no matter how little has leaked, it can still make your home a very hazardous place and must be cleared up as soon as possible.

The dangers of a mercury spill

The vapours produced by mercury can cause serious health problems when inhaled. In the short-term, you may experience symptoms like coughing, a tight chest, and breathlessness.

Long-term inhalation could cause more serious health problems, including damage to your kidneys and central nervous system. You can find out more about the dangers of mercury in this blog.

Mercury on carpet is especially serious because the mercury can hide deep in the fibres and you might not be aware the heavy metal is there. You could unknowingly be breathing in the toxic vapours and spreading it around the property by treading on it.

What to do when mercury spills

It might be tempting to quickly clean up the liquid metal yourself, but you must leave this to professional cleaners to ensure all the mercury has been removed and the area is safe.

There are some things you can do before the cleaners arrive to minimise the health risks and help speed up the cleaning process.

First, evacuate the area and make sure no one walks through the spill. Then, ventilate the room by opening all windows and doors that lead outside to get rid of any mercury vapours. Shut doors that lead to other parts of the property or the vapours could spread there, too.

Don’t forget to turn down the heating, as well, to reduce evaporation and switch off the air-conditioning so the vapours don’t move to other areas of your home.

The professional cleaners will then clean up all the mercury and dispose of the chemical and any hazardous waste according to local regulations.

If the mercury has spilled on carpet, the cleaners will cut out the affected portion and dispose of it appropriately. This is because carpet is an absorbent surface, like curtains and upholstery, so mercury is very difficult to remove from it.

You must not attempt to vacuum the mercury out of the carpet. Hoovers can warm up the metal, encourage evaporation, release the vapour directly into the air, and become contaminated with mercury. You can find out more about what to do in the event of a spillage here.

Why only professional cleaners should clear up mercury

Should you clean up the mercury yourself and leave behind small amount of the chemical, your health could be at risk for a long period of time. You might even make the spill worse, like using a broom to sweep it up, which may spread it around a larger area and split it into small droplets.

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

Disposing of the hazardous waste is difficult, too, and if you get rid of it incorrectly, such as throwing it in the bin or washing it down the sink, you could cause pollution.

Specialist cleaners, like ICE Cleaning’s technicians, have the specialist products, cleaning equipment, and PPE to remove all traces of the mercury safely. Should the mercury have spilt on the carpet, they can remove and dispose of the contaminated portion for you. 

Get in touch

Our qualified technicians are fully permitted to handle and dispose of mercury, no matter the size or the severity of the spill. They can be on site in a matter of hours if its an emergency.

Contact our team on 0208 066 0360 or send them an email at enquiries@icecleaning.co.uk to our technicians for our mercury cleaning services.

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