Case Ehs

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I have found a small bottle of mercury (40ml). how can I safely get rid of it?

Mercury Disposal

Disposal Procedures
Broken Thermometers and Similar Materials
Non-mercury Alternatives
Waste metals that will be reclaimed are not considered hazardous waste per the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. Elemental mercury is the most common reclaimable metal found at Princeton.

Mercury and mercury debris (e.g., broken thermometers, spill debris) will be collected periodically by EHS personnel, consolidated, and sent to a mercury reclamation/recycling plant. Mercury compounds will continue to be handled as hazardous waste.


Disposal Procedures
Collect mercury in a sealable container. Place broken thermometers or similar materials in a sealable plastic bag or plastic or glass jar. Keep the amount of debris to a minimum. Be sure that materials may be easily removed for consolidation.
Label the container "MERCURY SPILL DEBRIS".
Keep the material in your laboratory until the next scheduled waste pickup.
Contact Joan Hutzly (258-6251) or Steve Elwood (258-6271) with any concerns or for advice on packaging of elemental mercury or mercury debris for disposal.


Broken Thermometers and Similar Materials
In the event that a thermometer, manometer or similar mercury-containing device breaks, proceed as follows:

Put on a pair of gloves and eye protection.
Pick up the broken glass or debris and place in a puncture-resistant container.
Clean up any remaining mercury
Begin by picking up the droplets. Use an index card or scraper to consolidate the droplets, and pick up the pool using a pipette, syringe or vacuum pump. Do not use the house vacuum system without a charcoal filter trap. Small droplets can be picked up with adhesive tape or wet paper towels.
Commercial products such as sponges and powders may also be used. The sponges are typically not very effective. Sulfur is not a very effective means for cleaning up mercury
Place the mercury in a glass or plastic jar or a sturdy plastic bag. Only add visibly contaminated debris. Seal the bag and affix a label identifying the material as “mercury spill debris”.
Follow the mercury disposal procedures outlined above.
Please make sure to minimize the amount of debris involved. If gloves or other debris do not visibly contain mercury, they do not need to be included with the other waste.

Precautions for Minimizing Mercury Incidents
Do not use mercury thermometers as stirring rods.
Replace mercury thermometers with non-mercury alternatives (see below)
Use secondary containment or a tray under mercury-containing equipment.


Non-Mercury Alternatives
There are a number of non-mercury alternatives for mercury-containing devices, such as thermometers. Consider replacing your mercury thermometers with non-mercury or digital thermometers. In most cases, EHS will fund this replacement. Contact Steve Elwood at 8-6271 for more information.

Fisher Scientific and Lab Safety Supply offer a range of non-mercury thermometer options.

If you have any questions contact EHS at 8-5294 for assistance.

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