Date: Tue, 11 May 2010 15:38:57 -0400
Reply-To: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: "Norwood, Brad" <Brad.Norwood**At_Symbol_Here**ARISTALABS.COM>
Subject: Re: 3 re: Hg response
In-Reply-To: <536807E5AB1B466E9C6F9A84AB5B0F5C**At_Symbol_Here**bruekbergterm1>

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According to the EPA website:=A0

h ttp://

I would like to point out two things:

1)=A0 The clean-up of small quantities of meta llic mercury are decidedly a low-key affair.=A0 Do it yourself, keep kids & pets away, ventilate thoroughly for 24 hours, here are the instructions.=A0 No m ention of sending everyone who was in the room to the hospital.=A0 No mention of measuring the mercury levels in the room.=A0 No discussion of taking into a ccount the temperature, volume, airflow rate, etc.=A0 I deduce from this that s pills of small amounts of mercury can and should be cleaned up immediately by som eone who is mature, without a lot of hysterical hoopla and unnecessarily worryin g parents, teachers & administrators. This requires NO formal training.=A0 In this situation we are NOT talking about chronic exposure, high backgroun d levels, high temperature, small air volume or any other factor that might potentially cause this small amount of mercury to pose any credible acute t hreat to anyone present.=A0

2)=A0 On the other hand, spills of more than one pound (two tablespoons) require notification of the National Response Center (although it appears the intent here is release to the environment, not necessarily a spill in a room that is then immediately contained, recovered and cleaned up.

It should also be pointed out (in fairness) that the EPAR 17;s focus is, by definition, the impact on the environment, not necessarily the impact on those that deal with the ‘spill’.=A0 However, PPE is specified in the clean-up directions, so they’re not completely ignor ing that aspect.

The asterisk here is that, given the information in the arti cle that generated this whole discussion, we still do not know how much merc ury was spilled.

So, if this was a small amount of mercury (less than 2 tablespoons) I will reiterate my contention that the entire incident was bl own entirely out of proportion.=A0 In this event, my main ‘beef’ is with whoever the hazmat ‘professional’ was that was first contacted. =A0 The correct response was “Yes, you can clean this up yourself without requiring a full-blown hazmat response.”

If it was more than 2 tablespoons, hazmat had to get involve d, but sending people to the hospital was still way over the top and unnecessa rily worried a lot of folks IMO.

I’m not sorry I got this thread started; I think there has been a lot of good discussion generated by it.=A0 I hope that no one feels that I objected to the inclusion of the newsbrief in the digest, because I did not .=A0 Again, the problem, as I see it, was the response to the situation.


Dr. Bradley K. Norwood

Laboratory Director

Arista Laboratories

1941 Reymet Road

Richmond, VA=A0 23237

(804) 271-5572 ext. 307

(804) 641-4641 (cell)


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From: DCHAS-L Discu ssion List [mailto:DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**] On Behalf Of Ben Ruekberg
Sent: Tuesday, May 11, 2010 1:55 PM
To: DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] 3 re: Hg response

Thank you for the EHP reference.  I noticed that in additi on to discussing large spills, it had a couple of paragraphs concerning small metallic mercury spills (p. 149).  In this section, thermometer-sized spills did not seem to result in very high mercury concentrations in the ai r.

Let’s face it.  Mercury is not to be ignored.  There is no question that it is hazardous.  Nonetheless, it does not s eem (to me) that small amounts, barring unusual circumstances, are cause for pa nic.

Thank you,


From: DCHAS-L Discu ssion List [mailto:DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU] On Behalf Of Secretary ACS DCHAS< br> Sent: Tuesday, May 11, 2010 12:15 PM
To: DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] 3 re: Hg response

From: "Allan Astrup Jensen" <aaj**At_Symbol_Here**>

Date: May 11, 2010 11:35:28 AM EDT

Subject: RE: [DCHAS-L] 3 re: Hg respo nse

It is well-known that the uptake of metallic mercury orally is low (<0.01%) and normally without toxic effects.


Methyl mercury is mainly a vehicle for Hg2+ crossing the membranes reaching into, for instance, the brain. Hg2+ cannot pass. In the brain both Hg0 and MeHg will transform to the toxic Hg2+ which reacts with sensitive –SH groups in proteins. A good reference is: Ishitobi et al. Organic and inorganic mercur y in neonatal rat brain after prenatal exposure to methylmercury and mercury vap our. EHP 2010;118: 242-248.


There are many publications reporting high indoor concentrations after mercury sp ills and what to do to clean-up; for instance TA Baughman: Elemental mercury spi lls. EHP 2006; 114: 147-152; you could also look in


I am co-author of a report to the Danish EPA to be finished soon, and an information campaign is planned in Denmark to tell the public what to do wh en light bulb breaks.


Yours truly,

Allan Astrup Jensen < /o:p>

Technical Vice President 

Secretariat for Metrology, Chemical analysis and Management Systems 

FORCE Technology, Br=F8ndby 

Park All=E9 345 

2605 Br=F8ndby 


Phone: +45 43 26 70 00 

Direct: +45 43 26 70 81 

Mobile: +45 40 94 10 22 

Fax: +45 43 26 70 11 

e-mail: aaj**At_Symbol_Here**


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