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What to Do If You Spill More Mercury Than the Amount in a Thermometer

What NEVER to Do After a Mercury Spill

1.  Never use a vacuum cleaner to clean up mercury. The vacuum will put mercury into the air and increase exposure.

2.  Never use a broom to clean up mercury. It will break the mercury into smaller droplets and spread them.

3.  Never pour mercury down a drain. It may lodge in the plumbing and cause future problems during plumbing repairs. If discharged, it can cause pollution of the septic tank or sewage treatment plant.

4.  Never walk around if your shoes might be contaminated with mercury.

Spills of More than the Amount in a Thermometer, but Less Than or Similar to Two Tablespoons (One Pound)

Cleanup Instructions:

  1. Have everyone else leave the area; don't let anyone walk through the mercury on their way out.
  2. Open all windows and doors to the outside.
  3. Turn down the temperature.
  4. Shut all doors to other parts of the house, and leave the area.
  5. Do not vacuum. Call your local health department as soon as possible. If it is after-hours, please call your local fire department.  If you have questions about potential health effects, you can call your physician, or your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.

Spills of One Pound or More (i.e., if it Looks like Two Tablespoons or More)

Any time one pound or more of mercury is released to the environment, it is mandatory to call the National Response Center (NRC). The NRC hotline operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call (800) 424-8802. Note that because mercury is heavy, only two tablespoons of mercury weigh about one pound.