Is the mercury in the thermometer toxic? Is it dangerous?
Mercury is a silver-white, odorless, liquid metal that evaporates slowly at room temperature (25 degrees Celsius). A mercury thermometer contains only about 0.61 grams of mercury (according to the EPA). Mercury in the form of a volatile gas is very toxic to the human body.
Usually, the mercury in the thermometers used is very toxic pure mercury. However, if you accidentally swallow mercury, do not worry too much because pure mercury is very poorly absorbed through the skin as well as the digestive tract and can be excreted out of the body (about 0.01% through the healthy intestine). ).
The threshold of toxic mercury for the body is > 4-5 micromol/liter or > 1.6 microgram/kg/day (according to FAO/WHO Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives). Mercury poisoning is only dangerous when the swallow is suffering from gastrointestinal diseases such as intestinal perforation, at which time mercury will be absorbed in large amounts into the bloodstream and can cause acute poisoning.
Although it is not dangerous to accidentally swallow mercury, it will be very toxic if inhaled directly , especially for children. When a mercury thermometer breaks, the mercury is released into the air.
At this time, when children inhale, mercury will pass through the alveolar membrane into the bloodstream to functional organs such as the kidneys, liver and spleen, and the central nervous system, causing severe pneumonia, memory loss, lethargy, convulsions, and vomiting. , enteritis. In some cases, exposure to large amounts of mercury can cause acute poisoning, respiratory failure, and even death.
2 How to handle broken mercury thermometer
When you accidentally break the thermometer, the mercury inside the thermometer will flow out. At this point, the mercury will be in the form of round beads. To avoid mercury poisoning, you need to take the following steps:
- Step 1 : Quickly bring children and relatives to a safe area.
- Step 2 : Then to ensure health, you need to change old clothes, wear rubber gloves, medical masks and start cleaning up mercury.
- Step 3 : Use a cotton swab or thin paper to collect mercury, put it in a sealed glass jar.
- Step 4 : Finally, put the glass jar in a small bag, tie it tightly and put it in the trash.
When cleaning up mercury, you need to pay attention to the following issues :
- Use wet cotton sticks or thin paper Collect the mercury, put the mercury particles in a sealed glass jar. The movement when collecting mercury must be very gentle to avoid the mercury particles dissociating into smaller particles, making it difficult to clean up.
- If possible, sprinkle some sulfur powder on it, because sulfur reacts with mercury to form compounds that are more difficult to evaporate. If sulfur is not available, egg yolks can be substituted for the same effect.
- After cleaning, you must open all the doors to the area to ventilate for a few hours , then you can return to normal activities.
- After mercury recovery, the glass vial containing the mercury must be sealed, covered with multiple layers of plastic, taped, and clearly marked with a label on the outside before being placed in the classification. Absolute The collected mercury should not be poured down the drains as it will contaminate the water source.
- Clothes that have been contaminated with mercury should be discarded. If you want to use them again, wash them thoroughly . It is recommended to soak in cold water for 30 minutes, then soak for 30 minutes in soapy water with a temperature of 70-80 degrees, soak for another 20 minutes in high-temperature water mixed with a little detergent, then wash with cold water and bring Let dry, new to wear.
- Take children to medical facilities for monitoring and treatment when children show signs of mercury poisoning or swallow mercury.
3 Things to avoid when mercury is melted
During use, sometimes carelessly, you drop the thermometer, causing the mercury to flow out. However, many people do not understand the properties and harmful effects of mercury, so they do not clean up properly.
To keep everyone and yourself safe, you need to avoid the following things when mercury is released:
- Do not use mechanical equipment for cleaning, for example, as it will increase the possibility of mercury spreading further into the environment.
- Absolutely do not use a brush to clean, it will cause them to split into small droplets and spread around more.
- You should not pour mercury down the drain because it can clog your water pipes and make repairs difficult.
- If your clothes and shoes are contaminated with mercury, you should not move around in the house, need to change them immediately to avoid spreading this metal around.
4 Signs of mercury poisoning
When exposed to mercury poisoning, infected people will show signs such as:
- Feel the metallic smell in the mouth.
- Nausea, headache, intense facial resistance.
- Speak without a voice.
- Body aches and cold stomach.
Inhaled mercury vapors also have respiratory impairment and symptoms such as cough with sputum, shortness of breath, and pale skin. If inhaled more heavily, it can cause the oral cavity, teeth and gums to swell, rupture, and bleed.
In addition, when broken, mercury also spreads into the air, penetrates through the skin, causing allergic dermatitis , rashes, often on the face, neck, armpits, thighs. More serious is for patients with insomnia, mental panic, mood swings. At this time, you should take the patient to medical facilities for monitoring and treatment as soon as possible.
5 Notes to avoid breakage when using mercury thermometers
To avoid breaking the mercury thermometer, after using the thermometer, you should store the thermometer in a safe place , out of the reach of children, do not let the child suck the thermometer. Place the thermometer in a box or cotton bag to avoid knocking and breaking the thermometer.
If you have the conditions, it is best to switch to using an electronic thermometer to avoid mercury poisoning caused by a broken mercury thermometer. Currently on the market there are many types of electronic thermometers with extremely diverse prices, meeting all needs of users.
Reference source : hellobacsi.com
Above is information that will help you feel more secure in handling broken mercury thermometers. Any questions please leave a comment below!