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Mercury Spill Kit Safety -- New for 2017

Updated on January 5, 2017

Why You Need a Mercury Spill Kit

Mercury, also known as "quicksilver," is a toxic heavy metal. Mercury poisoning is very serious and occurs when the slippery, shiny metal drops from a broken thermometer or old thermostat escape into the environment. If this is in your home, you can have a very dangerous heavy metal contamination situation on your hands. Learn to be safe, and be prepared with a mercury spill kit that will protect you, your children, and your pets from the very real dangers of a toxic mercury metal spill.

A Mercury Spill Kit for Your Home

Many thermometers, especially older ones, have a drop or two of the liquid metal mercury, also known as quicksilver, inside the glass. If you accidentally break one, the mercury spills out. If you have never encountered mercury before, it's a little hard to describe what it's like -- it's a shiny silver metal that also a liquid, and it forms a bright little bead that is nearly impossible to pick up. Mercury has a mind of its own, which is kind of cool until you realize that mercury is one of the more lethal household toxins, and if you get even a little in your system it can make you very sick. So DO NOT TOUCH MERCURY!

I Broke a Thermometer -- What Should I Do?

First, you need to deal with the toxic mercury or quicksilver from your broken thermometer. Mercury is devilishly hard to "pick up" or clean -- it won't go where you want to, and seems to have a life of its own. It's a good thing you have a mercury spill kit, or you wouldn't be able to clean it up properly. The first thing you need to do to clean up the mercury from your broken thermometer is to isolate the spill area. Keep children and pets out, and by all means keep people from walking through the spill area. Anyone who may have come into contact with mercury should remove their shoes, which should be placed in two bags, sealed and closed. Otherwise, mercury could be tracked around your house. Isolating the spill is the first critical step to avoiding mercury contamination.

By Jurii ( [CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

What Is Mercury?

Facts about this unusual liquid metal

The mercury (also known as "quicksilver") that is in most older glass thermometers is a highly toxic heavy metal that does not decompose or break down in a landfill. When you break a thermometer, the mercury can escape, and can be very difficult to pick up. Ultimately mercury can wind up seeping through the landfill and into groundwater or other environments where it can cause all sorts of problems. If you have even a small amount of mercury to dispose of, you owe it to the community (and to the earth!) to do it responsibly. How can you do your part to keep people -- including your friends, neighbors and family -- from being hurt by mercury contamination?

Commercial Mercury Spill Kits

Mercury spill clean-up kits are available, and it's a good idea to have one on-hand in the event of a spill. Kits are available on-line and range from hundreds of dollars for a lab-quality kit to less than $30 for a household kit. Either way, you're going to need some trustworthy method of containing the spill, and making sure that the mercury doesn't poison you, your family, or the environment.

NPS 520260 4 Piece Spilfyter Specialty Spill Economy Mercury Spill Kit
NPS 520260 4 Piece Spilfyter Specialty Spill Economy Mercury Spill Kit

Kit includes (500g) amalgamation powder, (2) mercury sponges, (1) containment jar

The EPA is working to reduce the amount of mercury in the environment

Use Mercsorb products as part of your best management practices when dealing with mercury spills


Mercury Spill? Call 1-800 CLEANUP

Once you have your spill contained, get on the phone or on-line to find out what the rules are for your area. Try calling 1.800.CLEANUP. Not just for mercury spills, this hotline is the place to call any time you have a mess that might be -- or definitely is -- toxic. They will tell you what to do and how to do it. Call 1-800-CLEANUP for virtually any spill problem, including mercury.

Mercury Clean Up Kits and Why They Matter

If the danger posed to your family by a mercury spill was limited to your bathroom sink or floor, you could probably dispose of it by corralling the little drop and flushing it down the toilet. Unfortunately, mercury is a Class 6 Toxic substance, and you can't just flush it down the toilet -- it will never dissolve, and never dissipate. The toxin will simply float through the water table until it winds up coming out of someone's tap -- maybe yours. For this reason you need to dispose of spilled mercury the right way.

Symptoms of Mercury Poisoning

Mercury poisoning symptoms can include:-- impairment of peripheral vision-- disturbances in sensations-- pins and needles" feelings--lack of coordination-- impairment of speech, walking and hearing
-- muscle weakness

Household Mercury Clean Up Kit

Let Me Guess -- You Need a New Thermometer Too, Right? - Here's a mercury free model to keep your mercury spills to a minimum

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