Mercury Safety

Recycle mercury by sending it to Bethlehem Apparatus. This is a preferred method if the mercury is contaminated with gold, silver, palladium, platinum, or other noble metal. They will exchange it for triple-distilled mercury for a reasonable cost. Contact them first. Used mercury is generally shipped in a 76 lb iron 'flagon.'

Bethlehem Apparatus Co., Inc.
890 Front Street 
Hellertown PA 18055

Tel: 610 838-7034 
Fax: 610 838-6333
Contact: Bruce Lawrence

Mercury is Toxic. We have all heard of mercury contamination in fish, and the toxicity of organo-mercury compounds (e.g., methyl mercury) but mercury vapor is not healthy either. Sore gums (early warning sign) and mental disorders and tremors are symptoms of mercury poisoning. The Mad Hatter in "Alice in Wonderland" is an example of a sloppy hatter who used mercury to 'silver' metal pieces on hat bands. The vapor pressure of mercury is high enough (check the CRC Handbook!) that air, in equilibrium with metallic mercury, has a content that is above the allowed occupational limit in the US. Never heat mercury! Always use mercury in a well ventilated room, and always place a plastic or stainless steel tray under your work or storage areas to catch any spills. Keep the tray clean! Clean up any spill immediately. Mercury is also absorbed through the skin. Minimize contact.

Mercury can be safely used if these simple precautions are taken. Please be careful. 

Most of the information on mercury toxicity and mercury poisoning came from: 

"Safety and Health Practices for Working with Metallic Mercury", Woodhall Stopford, M.D., Bethlehem Apparatus, Inc., Hellertown, PA (1985).