Mercury SpillWhen Mercury is spilled, the droplets can emit odorless vapors that are colorless and very toxic. These droplets can be lost in very small spaces and create major problems, no matter how small the spill. If you feel unsafe cleaning up Mercury or any other hazardous chemicals, contact a biohazard clean up service straight away. 

EPA Recommendations for Mercury Spills of Less Than or Equal to the Amount in a Thermometer

  • Remove everyone, including pets –  Do not allow children to help in any way.
  • Powered sulfur can help – Sprinkle the sulfur over the spill and it will chance the color of the mercury to brown and keep it from vaporizing. Sulfur users should understand the product and how to use it, and should not breathe in the powder. 
  • Use rubber or latex gloves
  • Collect broken pieces of glass or sharp objects –  Put ALL broken objects on a paper towel, then fold the towel and place in a ziplock bag.  Place the bag in a safe area and label its contents.
  • Gather Mercury beads in one area – Use a squeegee or piece of cardboard to gather mercury beads with a slow sweeping motion to keep mercury from becoming uncontrollable. Use a flashlight to look for any additional mercury beads that may be sticking to the surface or in small cracked areas of the surface.
  • Use Eyedropper to collect the Mercury beads – For the larger beads of Mercury, use an eyedropper to draw them up. Once beads are in the eyedropper, then carefully squeeze mercury onto a damp paper towel which will be put into a ziplock bag.  Place the bag in a safe place and label its contents.
  • Use Paintbrush and shaving cream for smaller Mercury beads – After removing the larger beads, put shaving cream on top of a small paint brush and blot the spill area to pick up the smaller beads. Then use sticky tape to pick up any remaining glass fragments. Then place the paint brush and tape in a ziplock bag. Place the bag in a safe place and label its contents.
  • Place all materials used for the cleanup in a trash bag  – Place everything used in the clean up in a trash bag, including your gloves. Place the bag in a safe place and label its contents.
  • Contact the local health department or fire department for proper disposal 
  • Open Windows – Keep windows open for at least 24 hours after a successful cleanup. Continue to keep pets and children out of cleanup area. If sickness occurs, seek medical attention immediately.
  • Hard vs. Soft Surfaces – Mercury can be cleaned up easily from wood, linoleum, tile, and any other like surfaces. If a spill occurs on carpets, curtains, upholstery, etc. then these contaminated items should be thrown away in accordance with the proper disposal practices. Only cut and remove the affected portion of the contaminated carpet for disposal.

EPA Recommendations for Mercury Spills of More Than the Amount in a Thermometer

  • Isolate the area
  • Turn down temperature
  • Open windows
  • Don’t let anyone walk through the mercury
  • Don’t vacuum
  • Contact the local fire department or public health department

Mercury spills greater than 1 pound (lb) (2 tablespoons). EPA requires that the National Response Center must be contacted any time 1 lb or more of mercury is released into the environment. The National Response Center operates a 24-hour hotline at 800-424-8802.


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