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Mercury Awareness and Safety

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Title: Mercury Awareness and Safety


1
Mercury Awareness and Safety
Bureau of Workers Comp PA Training for Health
Safety (PATHS)
PPT-056-01
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2
Topics
  • Mercury (Hg) and variations
  • Properties
  • Historic uses
  • In-home uses
  • Amalgams
  • Dental use
  • Health effects
  • Hg poisoning
  • Respirator recommendations
  • Response safety
  • Bibliography

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Mercury Awareness and Safety
  • Atomic number 80
  • Also known as quicksilver
  • Only metal that is liquid at standard conditions
    for temperature and pressure
  • Only other element that is liquid under these
    conditions is bromine

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Mercury (Hg)
  • Mercury occurs as deposits mostly as cinnabar,
    known as mercuric sulfide.
  • Cinnabar Highly toxic by ingestion or dust
    inhalation
  • Elemental Hg can be produced by heating
    mercury-containing ores and condensing the vapor

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Three (3) Classes of Hg
  • Mercury (Element) Hg
  • Organic (Methylmercury Phenylmercury)
  • Inorganic Compounds known as Mercurial salts
  • Mercury(I) chloride (mercurous chloride)
  • a.k.a. Calomel
  • Mercury(II) chloride (mercuric chloride)
  • David Aldridge, his own work with
    permission

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29 CFR 1910.1000, Subpart Z
From Table Z-1 Limits for Air Contaminants 8-hr
TWA Substance CAS No. mg/m3
Mercury (aryl and inorganic)(as Hg) 7439-97-6
OSHA PEL C 0.1 Mercury (organo) alkyl compounds
(as Hg) 7439-97-6 OSHA PEL TWA
0.01 Mercury (vapor)(as Hg) 7439-97-6 OSHA
PEL TWA 0.05
skin
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Incompatibilities
Reaction Material Vigorous Mixtures of
sodium carbide, aluminum, lead,
iron Violent/explosive Chlorine dioxide,
lithium,
rubidium Reactive with Azides, ammonia,
ethylene oxide, and other materials
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Hg Uses
  • Hg Compound Used to make
  • Mercuric sulfate acetaldehye
  • vinyl chloride
  • vinyl acetate
  • Mercuric chloride disinfectant
  • Metallic Hg is poisonous
  • Heavy metals alter enzymatic and protein
    action and can lead to death.
  • Eugene Meyer, Chemistry of Hazardous Materials,
    Prentice-Hall Inc., 1977

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NIOSH Pocket Guide Information
  • Mercury compounds except (organo) alkyls (as
    Hg)
  • Formula Hg (metal)
  • CAS 7439-97-6
  • IDLH 10 mg/m3 (as Hg)
  • DOT 2809
  • ERG Guide page 172 (metal)
  • OSHA PEL Ceiling 0.1 mg/m3
  • Synonyms/Trade names Mercury metal - Colloidal
    mercury, Metallic mercury, Quicksilver other
    synonyms vary depending upon specific inorganic
    and aryl Hg compounds

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NIOSH Pocket Guide Information
  • MW 200.6
  • Insoluble
  • Flash point NA
  • IP ?
  • Specific Gravity 13.6 (metal)
  • UEL NA
  • LEL NA

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Properties of Hg
  • Specific Gravity
  • Mercury is 13.6 times heavier than water
  • This density enables it to be used in water level
    gauges measuring inches of Mercury to feet of
    water where each inch of Mercury read will
    support a column of water 1.13 feet high.

Note Mercurys ability to support heavy objects
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Properties of Hg
  • Allows us to determine atmospheric pressure

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Historic Uses
  • Fur removal from pelts to make hats in the
    mid-1700s to mid-1800s
  • Vapors from process were very toxic
  • Mercury poisoning was said to make one mad as a
    hatter
  • Also used in mining to separate gold and silver
    from ore to create an amalgam for recovery

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Historic Uses
  • 1800s
  • Treat depression
  • Toothaches
  • 1900s
  • Laxatives
  • Teething powders
  • Mercurochrome

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Historic Uses
  • Through catalytic reactions, Hg is used to make
    polymers, chlorine and caustic soda, as well as
    to extract gold from ore

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Historic Uses
  • Fishing lures
  • Lighthouse lenses
  • Fire detectors
  • Power plants fossil and nuclear
  • Separating chlorine and sodium from brine
  • Thermometers

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In-Home Uses
  • Precautions are required due to the use of
    Mercury-containing materials in each household
  • Other uses of Hg should instill safety
    considerations

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In-Home Uses
  • Mercury switches to control thermostats in our
    homes

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In-Home Uses
  • Wood preservative
  • Making mirrors
  • Herbicides
  • Antiseptics
  • Antidepressants
  • Mercury battery for hearing aids
  • Cosmetics

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Fluorescent Lamp
  • Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL)
  • More in use less power to generate more light
    last longer than conventional bulbs
  • Injection of Mercury via broken glass may occur

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Mercury Lamps
  • Breakage from Hg lamps may appear insignificant
    and easy to remedy, but you should exercise due
    care and maximize safety when cleaning this up

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Hg Forms
  • Most toxic forms for Mercury
  • Organic compounds
  • Dimethyl mercury
  • Methyl mercury
  • Inorganic compounds (such as cinnabar) highly
    toxic by ingestion and inhalation

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Amalgams
  • Hg dissolves to form amalgams with gold, zinc and
    other metals
  • Hg reacts with aluminum to form a
    Mercury/aluminum amalgam
  • This reacts with air resulting in aluminum oxide
    corrodes aluminum, not allowed on aircraft
    because it may react with aircraft metal, thereby
    weakening it

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Dental Use
  • Dental amalgam contains Mercury
  • Professionals agree fillings may release Mercury
    but opinions on health risks are diverse

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Routes of Exposure
  • Inhalation
  • Primary route for elemental Mercury
  • 75 percent to 80 percent is absorbed by lungs
  • Vapors are heavier than air (vapor density 6.9)
  • Skin or Eye Contact
  • Absorbed slowly through skin
  • Causes irritation to skin and eyes
    and possibly contact dermatitis
  • Ingestion
  • Methyl mercury completely absorbed and not
    readily eliminated

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Health Effects
  • Inhalation of vapor major exposure route
  • Symptoms may include corrosive bronchitis
    progressing to pulmonary edema or fibrosis
  • Mercury can cross the blood, brain and placental
    barriers, posing an increased risk to children
  • Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease
    Registry, Medical Management Guidelines for
    Mercury, found at http//www.atsdr.cdc.gov/MMG/MMG
    .asp?id106tid24

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Food Chain Consequences
  • Understanding the food chain allows us to
    understand how we might internalize Mercury
  • State fishing laws are specific regarding the
    amount of fish which may be eaten on a daily
    basis after waterway studies have been made

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Acute Health Effects
System Symptoms Respiratory
Cough, sore throat, shortness
of breath Gastrointestinal
Metallic taste, nausea, vomiting,
diarrhea, abdominal
pain Central Nervous Headache, weakness,
visual System disturbances
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Chronic Exposure
  • Mercury may accumulate in the body,
    resulting in permanent damage and changes
    to
  • Kidneys
  • Nervous system
  • Muscles

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Atmospheric Hg in U.S. 1998
  • Due to air pollution and other releases of Hg
    into the atmosphere

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Mercury Poisoning
  • Mercury Poisoning may result from
  • Exposure to water-soluble forms of Mercury, i.e.
    Mercuric chloride or Methylmercury
  • Inhalation of Mercury vapor or eating
    contaminated seafood
  • Symptoms of Hg poisoning include
  • Mild gastritis to severe pain with vomiting
  • Convulsions and numbness in mouth and limbs
  • Visual field constriction
  • Speaking difficulty

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Mercury Poisoning
  • In 1953, poisoning occurred in Japan when
    industrial waste was discharged into Minamata
    Bay the waste contained Methyl mercury salts
  • Aquatic microorganisms can convert mercury salts
    into methylated compounds (a methyl group
    attaches to Mercury atoms) these are easily
    absorbed into animal tissues
  • Minamata residents ate the fish containing
    Mercury

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Mercury Poisoning
  • In the 1960s and 1970s in Iraq, wheat treated
    with Methyl mercury as a preservative due to
    being seed grain was fed to animals and consumed
    by people
  • Resulted in neurological symptoms
  • Speech difficulties
  • Narrowing of visual field
  • Hearing impairment
  • Blindness
  • Death

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Respirator Recommendations (NIOSH, Table 3 4)
  • Mercury Vapor Mercury compounds except (organo)
    alkyls (as Hg)
  •  
  • Levels for concern
  • Up to 0.5 mg/m3
  • Up to 1.25 mg/m3
  • Up to 2.5 mg/m3
  • Up to 10 mg/m3
  • Emergency or planned entry into unknown
    concentrations or IDLH conditions
  • Escape

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Respirators
  • Up to 0.5 mg/m3
  • Any air-purifying half-mask respirator equipped
    with cartridge(s) providing protection against
    the compound of concern (APF 10) or
  • Any supplied - air respirator (APF 10)

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Respirators
  • Up to 1.25 mg/m3
  •  
  • Supplied-air respirator operated in a
    continuous-flow mode (APF 25) or
  • Any powered air-purifying respirator with
    cartridge(s) providing protection against the
    compound of concern (APF 25) Canister with end of
    service life indicator

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Respirators
  • Up to 2.5 mg/m3
  • Any air-purifying full-face piece respirator
    equipped with cartridge(s) providing protection
    against the compound of concern (APF 50) or
  •  
  • Any air-purifying, full-face piece respirator
    (gas mask) with a chin-style, front- or
    back-mounted canister providing protection
    against the compound of concern (APF 50) ESLI
    required for canister, or

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Respirators
  • Up to 2.5 mg/m3 (continued)
  • Any supplied-air respirator that has a
    tight-fitting face piece and is operated in a
    continuous-flow mode (APF 50) or
  •  
  • Any powered air-purifying respirator with a
    tight-fitting face piece and cartridge(s)
    providing protection against the compound of
    concern (APF 50) or

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Respirators
  • Up to 2.5 mg/m3 (continued)
  • Any self-contained breathing apparatus with
    a full face piece (APF 50) or
  •  
  • Any supplied-air respirator with a full face
    piece (APF 50)

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Respirators
  • Up to 10 mg/m3
  • Any supplied-air respirator operated in a
    pressure-demand or other positive-pressure mode
    (APF 1,000)

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Respirators
  • Emergency or planned entry into unknown
    concentrations or IDLH conditions
  • Any self-contained breathing apparatus that has a
    full face piece and is operated in a
    pressure-demand or other positive-pressure mode
    (APF 10,000) or

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Respirators
  • Any supplied-air respirator that has a full-face
    piece and is operated in a pressure-demand or
    other positive-pressure mode in combination with
    an auxiliary self-contained positive-pressure
    breathing apparatus (APF 10,000)

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Respirators
  • Escape
  • Any air-purifying, full-face piece respirator
    (gas mask) with a chin-style, front- or
    back-mounted canister providing protection
    against the compound of concern. (APF 50) or
  • Any appropriate escape-type, self-contained
    breathing apparatus.
  • NIOSH has respirator recommendations for other
    mercury compounds as well Mercury (organo) alkyl
    compounds (as Hg)

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Personal Safety
  • 29 CFR 1910.252(c)(10)
  • In confined spaces or indoors, welding or
    cutting operations involving metals coated with
    mercury-bearing materials, including paint, must
    be done using local exhaust ventilation or
    airline respirators unless atmospheric tests
    under the most adverse conditions show that
    employee exposure is within the acceptable
    concentrations specified by 29 CFR 1910.1000.
    Such operations, when done outdoors, must be done
    using respirators approved for this purpose by
    NIOSH under 42 CFR part 84.

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Mercury Detectors
  • Gas analyzer
  • Direct Mercury analyzer
  • Mercury vapor

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Response Safety
  • Plan for response to
  • Hg liquid
  • Hg vapor events
  • Have contingencies for
  • Rescuer safety
  • Victim treatment
  • Multi-casualty situations

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Response Safety
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff
    working in each zone
  • Hot Zone
  • Warm Zone (Decon)
  • Support Zone

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Response Safety
  • Having a response plan for smaller as well as
    larger types of potential emergencies will
    promote
  • Personnel safety
  • Reduced downtime
  • Reduced costs

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Response Safety
  • Elemental Hg is toxic in both the liquid and
    vapor form
  • Although not as readily absorbed through the
    skin, the inhalation hazard is more severe
  • Gloves and foot protection are recommended when
    dealing with liquid form

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Response Safety
  • However, self-contained breathing apparatus
    (SCBA) and chemical protective clothing (CPC) are
    recommended if dealing with heated vapor
  • Decontaminate or dispose of clothing contacting
    liquid mercury

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Decontamination
  • Review response policies before a potential event
  • Decon or remove and double-bag contaminated
    clothing
  • Also bag all personal belongings (if you were on
    the Emergency Response Team, you shouldnt have
    taken any personal items into the Hot Zone)
  • Wash hair and exposed skin thoroughly
  • Eyes should be flushed with water or saline for
    at least 5 minutes if exposed
  • Initiate proper medical protocols

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Chemical Substitutes for Hg
  • Due to problems previously cited with the use of
    Mercury, chemical substitutes are sought
  • One such substitute, called NewMerc by its
    originators, is a nontoxic, electrically-conducti
    ve, liquid alloy alternative
  • It is based on gallium and indium alloyed with
    tin
  • Various applications exist including float
    switches for waste water, bilge pumps on ships
    and sump pumps for homes
  • Further study should result in additional uses
  • Alan Brown, Nontoxic Liquid Metal Alloy Could
    Substitute For Mercury, from Chemical Online,
    April 19, 1999, found at http//www.chemicalonline
    .com/doc.mvc/Nontoxic-Liquid-Metal-Alloy-Could-Sub
    stitute-0001

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Texts to Assist Your Planning
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Selected Bibliography
  • Eugene Meyer, Chemistry of Hazardous Materials,
    Prentice-Hall Inc., 1977
  • NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards
  • http//www.cdc.gov/niosh/npg/npgd0383.html
  • Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry,
    Medical Management Guidelines for Mercury
  • http//www.atsdr.cdc.gov/MMG/MMG.asp?id106tid24
  • Philippe Grandjean, Hiroshi Satoh, Katsuyuki
    Murata, and Komyo Eto, Adverse Effects of
    Methylmercury Environmental Health Research
    Implications, published in Environmental Health
    Perspectives, August 2010 (published online June
    8, 2010)
  • http//www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC292008
    6/
  • Alan Brown, Nontoxic Liquid Metal Alloy Could
    Substitute For Mercury, from Chemical Online,
    April 19, 1999
  • http//www.chemicalonline.com/doc.mvc/Nontoxic-Liq
    uid-Metal-Alloy-Could-Substitute-0001

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Questions
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