Storage and Handling

Mercury should be handled in the laboratory using the "basic prudent practices" described in Chapter 5.C. In particular, precautions should be taken to prevent spills of mercury because drops of the liquid metal can easily become lodged in floor cracks, behind cabinets, and equipment, etc., with the result that the mercury vapor concentration in the laboratory may then exceed the safe and allowable limits. Containers of mercury should be kept tightly sealed and stored in secondary containers (such as a plastic pan or tray) in a well-ventilated area. When breakage of instruments or apparatus containing significant quantities of Hg is possible, the equipment should be placed in a plastic tray or pan that is large enough to contain the mercury in the event of an accident. Transfers of mercury between containers should be carried out in a fume hood over a tray or pan to confine any spills.

Accidents

In the event of skin contact, immediately wash with soap and water and remove contaminated clothing. In case of eye contact, promptly wash with copious amounts of water for 15 min (lifting upper and lower lids occasionally) and obtain medical attention. If mercury is ingested, obtain medical attention immediately. If large amounts of this substance are inhaled, move the person to fresh air and seek medical attention at once.

In the event of a spill, collect the mercury using the procedures described in Chapter 5.C, place in an appropriate container, and dispose of properly. Respiratory protection will be necessary in the event of a large spill, release in a confined area, or spill under conditions of higher than normal temperatures.

Disposal

Excess mercury should be collected for recycling, and waste material containing mercury should be placed in an appropriate container, clearly labeled, and handled according to your institution's waste disposal guidelines. For more information on disposal procedures, see Chapter 7 of this volume.



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