Mercury Spills


Clean Up of Small Mercury Spills from items such as thermometers and barometers

Mercury is a neurotoxin that readily enters the blood stream by breathing its vapor.

1. Make sure the area is adequately ventilated.

2. Isolate the spill immediately. Even if it falls just a short distance, mercury will splatter into small droplets that are difficult to collect.  If the spill is on a raised surface, contain it so that mercury doesn’t roll onto the floor.  Divert the spilled mercury from drains, cracks, and crevices.

3.  Wear rubber gloves to prevent skin contact. Keep your hands away from your face, especially your eyes, nose, and mouth.

4. Carefully pick up pieces of broken glass and place them on a paper towel or tissue.  Wrap or fold the paper towel, and place it in a leak-proof plastic bag.

5. Working from the outside of the spill area toward the center, push small mercury beads together with a card, stiff paper or squeegee to form larger droplets.  Then use an eyedropper or two stiff pieces of paper to pick up the droplets of mercury.  Place all droplets into a leak-proof plastic bag.  DO NOT VACUUM.

6. Using the sticky side of duct tape or masking tape (2 inches or wider) pick up any remaining glass and mercury droplets. Pay special attention to cracks or crevices in tile or wood floors.  Place the glass, mercury, and tape into the same leak-proof bag.

7. Using a flashlight, look all around in the area of the spill. The light will reflect off the shiny mercury beads making it easier to see them.  Pick up any droplets using the above procedure.

8. Carefully remove your rubber gloves when finished and place them in the leak-proof plastic bag.

9. Place all mercury containing clean-up debris (gloves, tape, mercury, etc.) in a leak-proof plastic bag and seal the opening with tape.

10. Dispose of collected debris at the Jefferson County Household Hazardous Waste Facility Questions may be directed to (360) 385-9160.