- 1 Prohibited actions after breaking a thermometer
2 How to act
- 2.1 Step 1. Glass and mercury collection
- 2.2 Step 2. Surface treatment
- 2.3 Step 3. Preventive actions
- 3 Unforeseen situations: question-answer
- 4 Mercury vapor poisoning: symptoms and first aid
- 5 Conclusion
Many of us are stunned by the question of what to do - if the thermometer broke. And when in reality we encounter a problem, we don’t even know where to run and what to grab. To avoid this, I recommend that you “arm yourself” with the knowledge of how to behave in such a situation.
In the article you will find consistent information: what you absolutely cannot do, how to collect mercury yourself and who to ask for help. Also symptoms of poisoning, first aid and further actions will be described.
Do not see anything dangerous in a broken thermometer? In vain! Upon impact, balls of mercury fly out of it, break into small droplets, scatter over the entire area of the room and begin to evaporate. Mercury vapor - the strongest poison! If it is not correct to remove all mercury, it will poison the air you breathe for many years.
This process proceeds almost imperceptibly. But mercury accumulates in the liver, kidneys, and brain, and will surely make itself felt. Headaches, dermatitis, damage to internal organs, damage to the nervous system, insanity... It all depends on the degree of intoxication.
Prohibited actions after breaking a thermometer
According to the Hygienic Standards 184.108.40.2068-03, mercury is a highly toxic substance of the 1st degree of danger! The evaporation of this liquid metal begins already at a temperature of 18ºC and lasts for many years, unless all sources are removed in time.
But if you do it wrong, there can also be adverse consequences. The following is a clear instruction that you should never do:
- Do not use the vacuum cleaner! He is not an assistant here, but rather a pest. Mercury settles on the details of the vacuum cleaner, is heated by the heat of the electric motor and evaporates even better. And this will happen every time the household appliance is turned on, which becomes a hotbed for the distribution of mercury vapor.
If you have ever collected a broken thermometer with a vacuum cleaner and continue to use it, I strongly recommend getting rid of it.
- Do not sweep the fragments with a brush or a broom - so you divide the mercury into smaller balls and, most likely, drive them into hard-to-reach places (under the plinth, in the cracks, under the furniture).
- Do not collect mercury with a wet or dry cloth - this will increase the area contaminated with a toxic substance.
- Do not open all the windows and doors wide open! A draft will spread mercury balls throughout the house. Airing is necessary after you make sure that all toxic sources are collected.
- If mercury gets on clothing, do not wash it in the bathroom and washing machine. The smartest thing to recycle these things!
- Do not throw away the remains of the former thermometer and collected metal balls into the sewer system. The dangerous metal will settle on the pipes and you will continue to breathe them. For the same reason, do not drain the water used for cleaning the scene.
- Do not throw away the remnants of the former thermometer and collected balls of metal in the garbage chute - then it will be impossible to get rid of this toxic substance, and you will not be able to breathe in mercury vapor.
- Trash cans are also not suitable for this waste. All that you have collected after breaking a thermometer and than washing the contaminated surfaces must be handed over to the collection point of mercury-containing devices. Demercurization of mercury will be carried out there - removal of its compounds by mechanical or physicochemical method. You can find out the address of the organization in your city from the district government.
Parents! Explain to the children in advance that if they accidentally break the thermometer, then it is necessary to tell adults about it. And promise that you will not swear. Otherwise, the child may be frightened and will try to hide the traces on its own.
How to act
Now I will consistently sign your actions if a mercury thermometer suddenly crashed in the apartment. Do not panic, do everything measured and neat. Remember, stepping on a mercury ball, you will spread pieces of hazardous metal around the house - the area of infection will increase!
Step 1. Glass and mercury collection
Follow this guide without disturbing the order of the items:
- Isolate the scene. You will withdraw all households and animals to another room and close the door. Doors should be closed wherever possible so that the poisoned air does not spread throughout the living space.
- Open the window in the room where it happened. Make sure all windows are tightly closed in all other rooms. Do not allow drafts!
- Protect yourself: put boot covers or plastic bags on your feet; tie a gauze bandage over your mouth, wetted in soda solution or simply in water; safety glasses and rubber gloves would not prevented.
- Report the incident to the Ministry of Emergency Situations by calling 112 or 911!
- To collect mercury from a broken thermometer, prepare and place these items in one place:
- 2 sheets of paper
- adhesive tape or plaster,
- medical pear,
- capacious pot with a sweaty lid, half filled with water.
- With your own hands, carefully collect the fragments and put them in a jar of water.
- Bring together the mercury balls that you see. The most convenient way to do this is with a brush and paper. And in order to be better seen, arm yourself with a flashlight or turn on a nearby desk lamp. All collected at this stage, put in the same jar.
- So, large pieces of glass and mercury are collected. Small fractions and shiny mercury residues can be removed with scotch tape or adhesive tape. Cut off small strips, glue to the surface and throw away in a jar.
- From particularly difficult places (plinths, cracks), thermometer particles can be sucked out with a medical pear. At the end of the work also dispose of it in the bank.
- Take a good look at the scene in a bright light - if something is left somewhere, it will glow.
- Where to throw the jar at the end of cleaning? Close it tightly with a lid and take it to the hazardous waste collection point as soon as possible.
Step 2. Surface treatment
All surfaces where there were even small particles of a broken thermometer should be washed several times a day with special solutions. What exactly and how to handle?
If in the area where you live there is a help desk in such situations, it is better to contact them of course. They will come and treat it with a powerful tool that cleans the infected areas the first time.
At home, it is necessary to regularly wipe the surfaces with soap and soda water and a solution of potassium permanganate (potassium parchment), acidifying it with hydrochloric acid.
It is not necessary to wet the place where the thermometer is broken with potassium permanganate, as it leaves stains on many surfaces. First, wipe with a solution of potassium parchment and immediately wash away with soap and soda water - so every time.
Step 3. Preventive actions
I would highly recommend to make sure that everything is collected, and you do not breathe in mercury vapor. For this purpose, a special service is called up, which with the help of instruments analyzes the air in the apartment for the concentration of harmful fumes.
If the MPC is exceeded, these people will check the premises for dangerous sources and eliminate them. When applying to such a service, be sure to check whether it has a valid accreditation certificate of a testing laboratory in a particular field.
Further, to reduce the risk of mercury vapor poisoning, adhere to the following:
- Do wet cleaning regularly.
- Ventilate the apartment as often as possible.
- Buy in a pharmacy infrared or electronic thermometer - they are safe.
- Eliminate the possibility of this object falling into the hands of children.
- In the process of measuring the temperature tightly fix the hand.
- If you want to bring down the measurements on the thermometer, then move away from furniture and solid objects.
- If the thermometer in the apartment has broken, strictly follow the instructions given above.
- Store mercury thermometers in special cases made primarily of plastic.
Unforeseen situations: question-answer
It may happen that mercury gets into completely undesirable places: on a fleecy carpet, soft toys, in the mouth to a dog or child. What to do in such cases?
- Dangerous metal hit the carpet / soft toys / clothes / sofa / armchair / mattress. The smartest way to get rid of this thing! It cannot be erased, and even after treatment with a chlorine-containing solution there is no guarantee that all particles are neutralized. Do not regret - health is more important.
- Pet eaten a ball of mercury. In fact, there is no great danger. The swallowed metal should come out naturally, but going to the vet will not interfere. Carefully monitor the state of the animal - with the slightest deviations of the usual behavior, consult a specialist.
- The child ate a ball of mercury. Call vomiting immediately and call an ambulance! All further actions are agreed with the doctor. Perfect if it's a toxicologist.
Do not self-medicate: you do not need to force the child to drink some drugs and chemical reagents, hoping that the poisoning is "neutralized." So you only aggravate the problem.
Mercury vapor poisoning: symptoms and first aid
As I already wrote, the metal from the thermometer begins to evaporate at room temperature, and these fumes are extremely dangerous to health! Their prolonged exposure causes poisoning, even if the concentration of vapor is low. In this case, the elimination of mercury from the body is quite a long process carried out by the kidneys.
Mercury vapor poisoning is divided into 3 groups:
- Chronic - occurs on regular contact with a dangerous metal. For example, when a person works for a long time in a room with an exceeded concentration of mercury vapor. Such poisoning is manifested by increased fatigue, migraines, irritability, insomnia, loss of appetite, dizziness, eyelid tremor and hands, nervous disorders, disruption of work the kidneys.
- Acute - manifests itself within 2-3 hours after contact of the respiratory tract with dangerous vapors. Symptoms may be loss of appetite, excessive salivation, headache, taste of metal in the mouth, pain in the abdomen, pain when swallowing, chills, shortness of breath, cough, impaired heart function. Acute poisoning can also be accompanied by pneumonia, as well as death.
- Micromercurism - the effects on the body of very low concentrations of mercury, but over the years. Symptoms: bleeding gums, finger tremor, prolonged respiratory diseases, in women hormonal and menstrual disorders.
All the above symptoms increase as the concentration of the poisoning metal in the body increases. If you have noticed something of the above, checking at a house at the MPC is no longer a desirable, but a mandatory event!
The effects of mercury vapor poisoning are eliminated in the hospital with the participation of qualified medical personnel. Therefore, when the first manifestations of poisoning, you must immediately call the ambulance.
First aid before the arrival of doctors is reduced to alleviate the general condition of the victim. If he is conscious, then act like this:
- put him to bed and provide complete rest;
- maximize fresh air into the room, but do not create a draft;
- flush the stomach with water;
- provoke vomiting;
- give a few tablets of activated carbon, based on the person's weight;
- provide plenty of warm drink;
- expect the arrival of medical professionals.
If the victim is unconscious, then lay him on his side, provide fresh air and make sure that the tongue does not sink down before the ambulance arrives.
Mercury vapor is not a joke! Especially for children, the elderly and pregnant women. If a thermometer has accidentally broken in your apartment, strictly follow the instructions I have written in detail. Signs of poisoning and the first actions we also considered.
Of course, you can say: “I have already broken the thermometer many times and nothing else is alive!”, But the wrong actions will surely affect your health or the health of your loved ones. As we have seen, it is only a matter of time.
I recommend to see for yourself and show the children the video in this article, having a preventive conversation with them. Ask questions in the comments!
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