Tag Archives: mercury
The Department of Natural Resources Wednesday dispatched an environmental emergency responder to screen a Lamar home for mercury vapors and assess any additional clean up needs following a release Tuesday from a broken thermometer.
The Barton County Health Department contacted the department’s 24-hour Environmental Emergency Spill Line, 573-634-2436, Tuesday to request pick-up of two mercury items dropped off by citizens, including a broken mercury thermometer from a home with a child.
The thermometer fell onto a tile floor and the home owner used shaving cream and a basting brush to clean up the mercury. The homeowner placed all materials and waste from the incident into a resealable bag and took the bag to the health department. Later the home owner contacted the Spill Line to inquire about assistance.
The greatest risk of exposure from elemental mercury in products such as fever thermometers is improper handling and disposal of spilled mercury. Mercury is toxic when inhaled. To help reduce that exposure risk, the department has launched an effort to rid homes of mercury, with nearly 50 mercury drop-off locations throughout the state.
Any private citizen or nonprofit agency can leave mercury-containing instruments, such as thermometers, blood pressure cuffs, thermostats or switches, at any of these sites. Citizens seeking to dispose of items at these sites should first secure the item in two zip top plastic bags and then place it in a crush-proof sealed container, such as a coffee can, plastic margarine tub, or plastic beverage bottle.
For more information, visit the list of mercury drop-off sites. The Mercury Roundup will end May 31, 2012.
The department is launching a month-long effort to rid homes of mercury, with nearly 50 mercury drop-off locations throughout the state.
Working with fire departments and county health offices throughout the state, the department is providing mercury drop-off locations in communities statewide. Any private citizen or nonprofit agency can leave mercury-containing instruments, such as thermometers, blood pressure cuffs, thermostats or switches, at any of these sites.
This program does not include compact fluorescent bulbs, or CFLs, see the Household Compact Fluorescent Lamp Use and Disposal fact sheet detailing the proper disposal of CFLs.
Citizens seeking to dispose of items at these sites should first secure the item in two zip top plastic bags and then place it in a crush-proof sealed container, such as a coffee can, plastic margarine tub, or plastic beverage bottle.
Department staff will collect the dropped off items at the end of May for consolidation. Staff will then transport the mercury items to Jefferson City to recycle what can be recycled and properly dispose of the rest.
A person who is uncomfortable with transporting mercury instruments, or who has large quantities of mercury, can contact the department’s spill line at 573-634-2436 to arrange to have items picked up.
For location information, visit the list of mercury drop-off sites.
For more information on the mercury roundup, contact the nearest participating agency or the department’s Environmental Services Program at 573-634-2436.
Visit mercury for more information on mercury, including health effects and how to clean up a small mercury spill.
At one time mercury was common in nearly every American household as a key component in such common household items as thermometers, thermostats and blood-pressure cuffs. As we have become more aware of the health effects of mercury, it has become less prevalent, but incidents of mercury spills still occur regularly. Cleaning up mercury spills correctly is very important for the health and safety of children and adults.
A small amount of mercury spilled on porous materials like cloth, carpet or wood, or trapped in a floor’s cracks and drains can expose everyone in the area for months or even years.
Mercury spills of any quantity can produce harmful vapors.
While the reportable quantity for mercury is 1 pound (approx. 2 tablespoons of liquid), a spill of any amount should be reported so that a technical individual can evaluate the spill and provide advice.
- Never use a household vacuum cleaner to clean up mercury. This will create more mercury vapors and contaminate your vacuum cleaner.
- Never use a broom on a mercury spill. Brooms scatter mercury droplets.
- Never pour liquid mercury or mercury compounds down the drain. Mercury will accumulate in the S-trap of the drain and may continue to emit harmful vapors.
- Never place mercury-laden fabrics in a washing machine. The washing machine may become contaminated. Dispose of clothing properly. For a household, this means double-bagging and placing in the garbage. For a business, this means disposal in accordance with state hazardous waste laws and regulations.
Cleaning Up Small Mercury Spills Fact Sheet
Household Compact Fluorescent Lamp Use and Disposal Fact Sheet – Information about cleaning up CFLs.
For technical advice and assistance, please contact the department’s 24-hour Environmental Emergency Response hotline at 573-634-2436 regarding any mercury spill.
On September 6, 2011, Environmental Emergency Responders (EER) contacted Verona High School, in Verona, MO, regarding a small mercury release in the school’s laboratory from a dropped thermometer. The room was immediately isolated. The science teacher undertook cleanup following U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) -recommendedguidelines. The room was ventilated. No other exposures were reported.
Emergency responders conducted air monitoring at the site and discovered several visible mercury beads on the floor in the classroom. EER staff utilized the mercury vacuum to remove any remaining mercury beads. The classroom and hallway were mopped twice with a HgX solution.
On September 13, 2011, EER received a call from Excelsior Springs Hospital about a mercury release from old medical equipment stored in the basement.
Hospital staff performed a cleanup. EER provided local hazardous material contractor contact information for contaminated debris disposal.
EER staff conducted screening of the hospital basement along with an EPA representative. Due to concerns regarding elevated levels, further action was required. However since this is a private business, a contractor was hired by the hospital with no further action by the department.
Mercury is toxic when inhaled. For more information on cleaning up mercury spills, visit mercury cleanup.
To report an environmental emergency, including mercury spills, please the contact the department’s spill line at 573-634-2436.
Examples of environmental emergencies include:
- Oil and chemical spills,
- Radiological and biological discharges,
- Accidents causing releases of pollutants,
- Fish kills
- Hazardous material incidents
- Leaking abandoned containers
To report an environmental concern, visit the online environmental concern form.
For more information visit the department or call 800-361-4827 or 573-751-3443.