Is it dangerous to break a thermometer?

Is it dangerous to break a thermometer? Is mercury really dangerous?

Despite the age of information technology and the total trend towards a healthy lifestyle, many still doubt whether it is dangerous to break a thermometer. The low cost of a medical instrument allows you to replace them at least every day, and modern household appliances can remove everything, even the smallest pieces of glass, without the slightest effort. However, the danger of a broken mercury thermometer lies far from the possibility of accidentally cutting yourself on a splinter, and certainly not the financial loss from having to buy a new thermometer. Mercury, scattered from a broken device into microscopic particles, belongs to the first, most toxic hazard class, and therefore can cause serious damage to human health.

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How does mercury spread from a broken thermometer?

The measuring column of the thermometer contains about 2 grams of mercury – a silvery metal, which in its normal state has a liquid viscous consistency and easily evaporates at room temperature above 18 degrees, turning into highly toxic volatile chemical compounds. Despite the seeming insignificance, such a volume of mercury, without proper demercurization, can cause a real epidemic within the same apartment or house.

To estimate the possible damage dealt, let’s do some calculations. In a couple of hours, the same 2 grams of metal, released from a broken thermometer, easily transforms into dangerous vapors, the concentration of which in an average apartment with an area of ​​​​60 m3 will be about 0.009 mg / m3. (9000 ng/m3). At the same time, the maximum permissible concentration of mercury vapor, safe for residential premises, is only 0.0003 mg/m3 (300 ng/m3).

Exceeding the maximum permissible concentration (MPC) of mercury in a residential area by 30 times!

Based on this, it is clear how dangerous it is to break a mercury thermometer at home! – Really VERY DANGEROUS!

And the contrast in the indications regarding MPC will only increase if appropriate measures are not taken!

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If not taken urgently, a broken thermometer can cause serious complications, cause dangerous symptoms, and damage the health of those living in a room contaminated with mercury. When inhaling concentrated toxic fumes, the first symptoms of acute poisoning will not be long in coming. After a couple of hours, the victims note:

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Expert opinion:

Mercury poisoning occurs by inhalation of its vapors. The clinic will depend on the duration of exposure and the dose of mercury that has entered the body. Acute poisoning occurs several hours after mercury vapor enters the respiratory tract. It is manifested by general weakness, headache, increased salivation, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and the appearance of a metallic taste in the mouth. Chronic poisoning or
micromercurialism develops with prolonged exposure (several
months or years) of mercury vapor in a dose slightly exceeding the MPC
(maximum permissible concentration) of 300 ng/m3.
Malyaeva Svetlana Gennadievna

Is it dangerous to break a thermometer: the consequences of acute mercury poisoning

General symptoms of intoxication:

  • lethargy, apathy, unexplained drowsiness, slowness of general reactions;
  • persistent headache, which is difficult to stop with analgesics;
  • nausea, vomiting, increased salivation, metallic taste on the gums and tongue;
  • unpleasant sore sensations when swallowing.

Such symptoms are just the beginning of acute mercury poisoning. If you continue to inhale the vapors, after them more serious consequences will appear – confusion and loss of consciousness, severe shortness of breath even without physical exertion, damage to the respiratory and excretory systems up to a coma and subsequent death. As it turned out, it is so dangerous to break a mercury thermometer at home.

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Is it dangerous to break a thermometer: Features of the chronic course of poisoning

Chronic poisoning with low-concentration mercury vapor is considered no less dangerous. Unfortunately, self-cleaning and demercurization never brings 100% results – the smallest particles of metal still remain in hard-to-reach places – cracks in the floor, furniture upholstery, carpeting – gradually polluting the air in the apartment. It is impossible to neutralize them with home measures – this requires the professional help of demercurization specialists.

Always after collection and processing, it is necessary to carry out Air analysis for mercury. To identify invisible pockets of mercury pollution!

Unlike acute mercury poisoning, recognizing the chronic course of the disease is not as easy as it might seem. Symptoms can manifest themselves weeks, months, and possibly even years after the accident – the rate of development and severity of mercurialism depends on the concentration of vapors and the duration of the daily stay in the room.
Most of the victims can mistake the primary symptoms for ordinary psychosomatics, the effects of stress and hypovitaminosis.

Signs of mercury poisoning include:

  • lethargy, fatigue, drowsiness;
  • frequent headaches;
  • inattention, forgetfulness;
  • spontaneous sweating without any physical exertion;
  • nervous state, outbursts of aggression alternating with apathy, tearfulness, emotional decline;
  • tremor of the fingers under stress.

However, the apparent harmlessness of the symptoms is only the tip of the iceberg, because much more serious changes are taking place inside the body at this time. Under the influence of accumulated mercury compounds, the endocrine organs responsible for the production of hormones are destroyed, and therefore, a persistent hormonal imbalance is formed. Violation of cardiac activity leads to attacks of arrhythmia, slowing or, conversely, increased heart rate. Mercurialism also affects the vessels: pathological processes develop in them, causing arterial hypertension and atherosclerosis.

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Is it dangerous to break a thermometer: How to protect yourself and your loved ones from mercury poisoning?

Демеркуризация квартир

Having analyzed in detail whether it is dangerous to break a thermometer, and how dangerous break a mercury thermometer at home, which is fraught with such an accident, it is difficult to doubt the seriousness of what happened. The main thing in this situation is to quickly and thoroughly eliminate the source of infection by neutralizing the released mercury. Do not risk your own health by doing useless cleaning – no single measure can provide the desired result!

Turning to a professional demercurization service “Mercury Expert”, you get a guaranteed safe room, cleared of toxic chemical compounds and their sources. Employees of the company will promptly go to the accident site for demercurization, after which they will provide measurement results confirming the effectiveness of the measures taken. After that, you do not have to worry about whether it is dangerous to break the thermometer and what it threatens – your apartment will be absolutely clean and 100% safe from mercury!

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