Spills of Elemental Mercury
Mercury Spill Situation
For any of the following:
A spill occurs which
involves more mercury than is contained in a small thermometer (more than a milliliter).
A small amount of mercury
is spilled but individuals in the area do not know how to properly clean up the mercury.
Mercury has spilled onto
the floor or carpet or been scattered over equipment on a lab bench or in a hood
Someone has been
contaminated with mercury droplets, e.g.the material
has contacted or is on or
in their clothing, shirt, shoes, etc, or
has contacted or is
smeared on their skin, face, mouth, nose, hair etc.
individuals should move away from the immediate vicinity of the spill. Unnecessary
personnel should leave the lab or room. Individuals with mercury on their person or
clothing should remain in the area so other locations are not contaminated.
The spill area should be
marked and cordoned off to prevent spreading the mercury droplets.
Call 911 or 646-3311
(University Police) and report the mercury spill.
The incident should be
reported as soon as possible (both during normal hours as well as after hours).
University Police will notify the Office of Environmental Health and Safety.
EH&S personnel will clean up the spill and check the area and any contaminated
personnel for toxic mercury vapor.
After a review by
EH&S personnel using a vapor monitor, individiual with contamination on their person
may be sent for medical review
Employee should go to
Employee Heath Services. Students are to go Student Health Center. After hours
contaminated individuals should go to the nearest medical facility.
In the event of personnel
contamination, an accident report must be filed.
Contaminated clothing or
shoes may be confiscated for disposal.
You can clean up a spill of mercury if none of the above
apply and you have the mercury clean up materials.
- The initial response to a spill of elemental mercury should be to
isolate the spill area and begin the cleanup procedure. Those doing the cleanup should
wear protective gloves.
The cleanup should begin
with collecting the droplets. The large droplets can be consolidated by using a scraper or
a piece of cardboard, and the pool of mercury removed with a pump or other appropriate
A standard vacuum cleaner
should never be used to pick up mercury. If a house vacuum system is used, it can be
protected from the mercury by a charcoal filter in a trap.
mercury droplets may be picked up on wet toweling, which consolidates the small droplets
to larger pieces, or picked up with a piece of adhesive tape. Commercial mercury spill
cleanup sponges and spill control kits are available. The common practice of using sulfur
should be discontinued because the practice is ineffective and the resulting waste creates
a disposal problem.