Mercury Toxicity Prevention
- What It Is
- Risk Factors
- Living With
- User Questions
- Alternative Treatment
- Care Guide
- Questions for Your Doctor
- When to Contact a Doctor
- Find a Doctor
- Resource Guide
How to Prevent Mercury Toxicity
To help reduce your chances of getting mercury toxicity, take the following steps:
- Avoid using metallic mercury for any purpose
- If you must use metallic mercury, keep it safely stored in a leak-proof container in a secure space (eg, a locking closet)
- Trade in old thermometers or barometers containing mercury for new ones that do not
- Carefully handle and dispose of items containing mercury (eg, thermometers, fluorescent light bulbs)
- Do not vacuum or heat spilled mercury
- Teach children not to play with silver liquids
- Properly dispose of old medications containing mercury
- Keep mercury-containing medications away from children
- Learn about wildlife and fish advisories in your area from your local public health or natural resources department
- Limit fish intake to recommended quantities and avoid fish known to be especially contaminated by methylmercury
If you spill a small amount of metallic mercury (eg, a broken thermometer):
- Remove children from the area.
- DO NOT use a vacuum cleaner.
- Carefully roll the bead of mercury onto a sheet of paper or suck it up with an eye dropper.
- Place the bead in a bag or airtight container.
- Contact your local health department to find out how to dispose of the mercury and paper or eye dropper.
- Ventilate the room to the outside.
- Use fans to speed ventilation for at least one hour.
If you find a larger amount of metallic mercury (eg, a jar of metallic mercury), call your local health department for professional assistance in safe and appropriate disposal. If any amount of mercury greater than that found in a fever thermometer spills, call for help and immediately leave the area of the spill until responsible and prepared authorities arrive to assist in cleanup. If your health department is unavailable, your fire department may be able to provide emergency assistance or connect you with the local “Hazmat” team.