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The small amount of elemental mercury in fever thermometers and thermostats is not likely to cause serious health problems if it is immediately cleaned up. Follow these instructions:
If you do not have a mercury spill kit, you should have the following items:
stiff paper (for example, index cards)
duct tape or packing tape
plastic or rubber gloves
sulfur powder (available at garden stores)
plastic zipper-lock bags.
small empty plastic container (bottle or tub)
Mercury spill kits are commercially available from safety supply companies or online (search for “mercury sorbents”).
Never use a vacuum − it will blow mercury vapors into the area, increasing the chances that you will inhale the vapors.
Never use a broom or paint brush or cloth or paper towel − it spreads mercury.
Never use household cleaning products. They may react violently with the mercury and release toxic gases.
Never pour mercury down a drain or put it in the garbage. Call 1-800-732-9253 for information about where to safely dispose of mercury waste.
Never allow people with contaminated clothes or shoes to walk around.
All people and pets should be kept away from the area until proper clean up has been completed.
Continue ventilating the room for several hours.
After clean up is completed, wash your hands and face.
Hard surfaces such as linoleum, vinyl, or hardwood floors
Wearing gloves, work from the outside of the spill toward the center.
Use the stiff paper to push the beads of mercury together.
Use the flashlight to look around in all areas of the spill. The light will reflect off the shiny mercury beads and make it easier to see them.
Using the eye dropper, suction the beads of mercury and carefully deposit them into a small empty plastic container (bottle or tub). Use the eye dropper to get mercury out of cracks or crevices.
Using the tape, pick up remaining mercury and place tape, eye dropper, and plastic container into a plastic bag, along with the stiff paper and gloves. Seal the bag so that it won’t leak.
Sprinkle sulfur powder on the spill area, a color change from yellow to brown indicates that mercury is still present and more clean up is needed.
Place the plastic bag of waste in a second plastic bag and label it as mercury waste.
Carpet or rug
The section of carpet that is mercury contaminated should be cut out, if possible. The cut out carpet, along with all clean-up items, should be placed in a plastic bag and then placed in a second plastic bag labeled as mercury waste. If the carpet is not removed, open the window during the next several times you vacuum it to provide good ventilation.
Breaking a fluorescent light bulb is different from breaking a thermometer, thermostat or other item containing elemental mercury. You will not be able to see the mercury. Follow these instructions.
Oregon Response System
(spills of one pound or more):
1-800-452-0311 or 503-378-6377
Oregon Poison Control:
In case of a life threatening injury or accident, call 911.
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