How do you test red mercury

Department of biology, chemistry, pharmacy

What color had the liquid, especially the ball at the bottom of the thermometer? If it was colored, then it's alcohol and all you have to worry about is cleaning up the broken pieces. If it was metallic-silvery, it is mercury. They don't die right now just because they scattered some mercury, but it would be unhealthy to permanently expose yourself to it, so all the mercury has to be absorbed and disposed of. All further information relates to the mercury that has now been distributed.

  1. Block off the affected area! In particular, nobody has to walk over affected areas of the floor. Organize guards, barricade the area with laboratory stools - come up with something!
  2. Give yourself Trouble, the delimit the affected area. The border is not where it becomes unsavory to continue searching, e.g. under the cupboards) but it is the mercury globule that has rolled away the furthest that marks this border. The kinetic energy of mercury can be considerable. If a thermometer falls on the floor, calculate with a radius of up to 2 m!
  3. Sweep up the mercury. On the ground usually (!) under the cupboards on suspicion! If the mishap is limited to a smaller area of ​​the work surface, room 31.02 smaller brushes to disposal. As a rule, none of the mercury will stick to the brooms or brushes used, which is why they can be used again afterwards.
  4. You must now decide whether the swept heap consists of a mixture from which you made the mercury quantitatively can collect out, or whether it is a heap of undifferentiated soil debris, by seeing a few balls of mercury everywhere, among other things.
  5. In the case of undifferentiated floor rubbish, the entire rubbish is picked up with a dustpan (Berliners say "garbage shovel") and disposed of as floor rubbish containing mercury. (Disposal container in room 31.02). Since the disposal costs are based on the total weight, it is attractive, if possible, to read out the mercury quantitatively. This is best done with a piece of zinc sheet, which must be briefly etched with a little dilute hydrochloric acid before using it for the first time and then whenever it is superficially oxidized. You can get the zinc sheet in the assistant room 31.05. If you hold the zinc sheet up to a drop of mercury, it will jump onto the zinc sheet "like a magnet", forming amalgam. The sheet metal is covered with a film of mercury, which you can empty into the mercury disposal container by carefully tapping it.

  6. Look at your broken thermometer. Try - also to minimize costs - to separate mercury-containing parts from non-mercury-containing parts. It may well be that cutting the thermometer at a later date is advantageous.

Thank goodness the opinion is that you have to throw something on quickly on spilled mercury (sulfur powder, zinc powder, the worst is activated carbon (!)), Almost eradicated. If there is still a remnant of people who want to give you such counterproductive advice, please absolutely refuse to follow them.

All these remedies do not solve the problem, they just cover the mercury! Because you don't see it anymore, you think that helped. In truth, you have only driven up the costs, because now you have to dispose of the expensive chemicals that could have been used for more useful things for dear money (mercury waste can only be dumped underground). to get the whole mess clean again.


With "Mercurysorb", however, there is an agent specially developed for decontamination, which has to be sprinkled on spilled mercury and actually binds it reliably. However, this remedy is also not cheap and usually not necessary.


Please internalize:

Mercury waste must always be collected separately!

  • So pure mercury has to be collected separately.
  • Mercury with some admixtures must also be collected separately as mercury waste.
  • Mercury with a large number of admixtures must also be collected separately as mercury waste.
  • A pile of stuff with a bit of mercury in it should also be collected separately as mercury waste.

Because the latter in particular is expensive to dispose of, avoid unnecessarily mixing mercury with other things!