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How do I clean up a mercury spill?

Suggestions for cleaning up mercury spills:

1. Immediately upon spillage of mercury, open the windows, doors or, in general, provide maximum ventilation. Air dilution is the solution for your personal protection when mercury is involved.

2. Never sweep the spill with a broom. Attempt, to the greatest extent possible, to avoid creating free mercury vapor. Avoid contaminating brooms, your shoes or other items in the area. Put plastic bags over your shoes if you must walk in the spill area.

3. Push the pools of mercury together.

4. Pick up the pools with a closed device like a medicine dropper or a Beral pipet. Transfer the droplets to a seamless polyethylene or polypropylene bottle.

5. It is unlikely that you can pick up all the hidden droplets, so how do you handle the remaining residue? Follow this procedure while maintaining a high level of room ventilation.

Sprinkle zinc metal dust over the spill area. Zinc metal dust will react with elemental mercury to form a very safe amalgam. The amalgam formed is more easily collected and disposed of than elemental mercury. If the mercury is "dirty" with dust and dirt, the likelihood of the zinc amalgam being formed is reduced. The zinc metal powder may help with some of the "clean" droplets. Be careful in handling zinc metal dust. If it is damp and in a confined space (like a bottle or a can) the container will expand or even explode.

Another option is to use a mercury spill control kit. The Mercon® Mercury Spill Control Kit is virtually 100% effective as a mercury suppressant and decontaminant. On contact with mercury, Mercon® immediately stops mercury vapor from going into the air. 

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