Centers For Disease Control And Prevention Don’t Mess With Mercury

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Centers For Disease Control And Prevention Don’t Mess With Mercury

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[Centers For Disease Control And Prevention Don’t Mess With Mercury]

[Michelle Watters, MD (Medical Officer, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry):] Source: LYBIO.net
The “Don’t Mess with Mercury” initiative is a program designed for middle school students for them to learn about the dangers of exposure to elemental mercury. In addition to this video, we also have a web site with games and activities where they can learn more about the dangers of mercury.

Narrator:
You know about mercury, right?

No, not the planet closest to the sun. Not the mythological messenger of the gods. I’m talking about the real deal–elemental mercury– the silvery, shiny liquid metal.

980
Hg
Mercury
200.59

You can see why it’s called quicksilver. Mercury is the only metal that is a liquid at room temperature.

-40°

It has to be almost 40 below zero to freeze. Mercury is very dense. One tablespoon weighs as much as a cup of water.

Iron and lead can float on top of its surface. And, mercury has a high surface tension. That’s why it breaks into lots of little beads when it’s spilled. It also is a good conductor of electricity. [*zap*]

It may look cool, but mercury is highly toxic and shouldn’t be played with. If it spills out, like if a thermometer breaks, mercury evaporates, so it gets into the air. You can’t smell it and it’s invisible under normal light. But you can see the vapors using ultraviolet light. You could be breathing in those vapors and not even realize it.

What’s so bad about mercury? Breathing in the poisonous air or vapors that mercury gives off can have really serious effects on your brain, your lungs, and kidneys. It can make you feel anxious or tired. Mercury also can cause memory and hearing problems and make you tremble or shake.

Mercury is especially toxic to children because their bodies are still growing. The most common and dangerous way you can be exposed to mercury is by breathing it in. Remember, you can’t see or smell the vapor. Mercury is absorbed by the lungs and goes right into the bloodstream. When this happens, mercury will build up inside your body. So, even a small exposure over a long time can cause health problems. And you don’t want that.

[Michelle Watters, MD (Medical Officer, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry):]
Since exposure to mercury is especially dangerous to developing minds and bodies, students have to be careful when handling instruments and other things that contain mercury.

Narrator:
Where can mercury be found? Since we realized how toxic mercury is, it’s used less often. But mercury still can be found in lots of things you might find here at school and at home. At school it could be in glass thermometers, science lab equipment and instruments, fluorescent bulbs, or in thermostats and switches. Sometimes it is even stored in jars. That means it could be in classrooms, science labs, chemical supply rooms, health clinics, or janitor closets. At home you’re most likely to find mercury in a glass thermometer, a thermostat, or in compact fluorescent light bulbs,
known as CFL bulbs.

[Michelle Watters, MD (Medical Officer, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry):]
With the exception of the CFL bulbs, breaking or spilling any of these objects that contain mercury might not only be dangerous but can also be expensive. That’s why it’s important to clean up these spills before they become a bigger problem.

Narrator:
So, what should you do if a thermometer breaks or if you see that mercury has spilled? First of all, don’t touch it or try to clean it up yourself. Tell an adult. If you’re in a room where mercury has spilled, it’s important to leave that room as quickly and orderly as possible to avoid breathing in the vapors. But it’s also important to keep it from spreading. That means making sure you don’t step in it when leaving the room. It could get on the bottom of your shoes. You’re also going to want to make sure mercury didn’t get on your clothes or backpack. A mercury spill that spreads throughout the school is a really, really big deal. Cleaning up a widespread mercury spill can take a lot of time and means closing rooms to clean it up. Everything in the building– including your stuff– has to be checked for mercury. If it can’t be removed, say from your backpack, cell phone, or shoes, then they’ll have to be thrown away. Mercury clean-ups can take a long time and may mess with your school schedule.

[Michelle Watters, MD (Medical Officer, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry):]
If you find mercury, don’t mess with it, don’t touch it. Tell an adult because mercury is anything but cool.

Narrator: Source: L Y B I O . N E T
Thanks for watching. And remember… Don’t mess with mercury.

Centers For Disease Control And Prevention Don't Mess With Mercury

Centers For Disease Control And Prevention Don’t Mess With Mercury

Learn more:
http://www.cdc.gov
http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov

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