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Dangers of Mercury Thermometers – What Should Do, If You Broke A Thermometer

Dangers of Mercury Thermometers – What Should Do, If  You Broke A Thermometer

A Research conducted by emergency physicians at Children’s Hospital Boston warns parents to get rid of their old glass thermometers. A 12 year review of patients seen in Children’s emergency department (ED) proves that glass thermometers are not safe in addition to mercury exposure injuries from broken glass. There were 84 percent with broken glass injuries to their mouth or rectum.

Among this 66 percent required imaging procedures for a potential foreign object and 42 percent were exposed to mercury, which is a poison. About 80 percent in this study were younger than 4 years and this makes things hard. There are repeated warnings and legislation and this glass thermometer-related injuries decreased by less than 9 percent annually.

What Should Do, If  You Broke A Thermometer ?

If you break a mercury thermometer or light bulb, you can see small amount of liquid mercury may spill out. This Liquid mercury can separate into small beads. This will easily roll some distance away. The mercury can evaporate into vapour. When a mercury thermometer breaks, the small amount of mercury from this is unlikely to cause problems for your health.

If there are any broken pieces of glass then pick them up with care. Place all broken objects on a paper towel and place in a zip lock bag. Then Locate visible mercury beads by a squeegee or cardboard. Use slow sweeping motions to keep mercury from becoming uncontrollable. Mercury can move surprising distances on hard-flat surfaces. Inspect the entire room when “searching. Place all mercury beads and objects into the trash bag. Secure trash bag and label it as directed by your local health or fire department.

How to Identify a Mercury and Non Mercury Thermometer?

Sometimes determining Whether Your Non-Digital Fever Thermometer has Mercury in it or not is difficult. Now a days Newer non-digital fever thermometers often use alcohol or a non-toxic compound that looks similar to mercury. If the liquid in the thermometer have any color other than silver, then it is most likely alcohol. If there is silver fluid, it may be mercury or possibly a non-mercury substance.

Cleaning Up Mercury Spills

Once a mercury thermometer break happened, never use a vacuum cleaner to clean up mercury. The vacuum will put mercury into the air and increase exposure. You should Never use a broom to clean up mercury as it may break the mercury into smaller droplets and spread them. Never pour mercury down a drain as it will lodge in the plumbing and cause future problems. It can also cause pollution of the septic tank or sewage treatment plant. Never walk around the spill as your shoes and clothing might be contaminated with mercury.

Available Safe Thermometers 

There are several alternatives to mercury thermometers. This list includes digital thermometers, glass gallium-tin thermometers, glass alcohol thermometers etc. These non-mercury fever thermometers are just as good as mercury thermometers. There is added benefit of much safer reading in a safe way.

Dangers of Mercury

Mercury is a very dense element. This is the only metal to exist as a liquid at room temperature. It has a high electrical conductivity . It can expands and contracts evenly with changes in temperature.  Mercury is highly toxic to living organisms. When it is released, it becomes vapor in the air and will accumulate in rivers. This may contaminate fish and cause mercury poison for people who eat fish.

Mercury also poses a particular threat to Pregnant women as it will be passed on to the baby through the placenta or when breastfeeding. This can affect the developing fetus and cause poor brain growth and nervous system functioning. Young Children will be affected by mercury with lowered intelligence, impaired hearing and poor coordination. Long term exposure causes personality changes and even coma.

One comment

  1. My brother gave me a digital thermometer a few years ago at Christmas, mainly for meats or casseroles. But when I mentioned I never know when my bread to done, he told me to take its temperature. He suggested 195 to 200 degrees. I’ve not had an over-baked or under-baked loaf or dinner roll since!

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