Mercury Chemical Applications

There are a few different types of chemical solutions on the market today that are used in remediation of mercury. Most of these solutions try to oxidate the mercury and suppress the mercury vapors. Most for the solutions are to be applied with a mop, and allowed to dry. The material left is then mopped up or vacuumed and mopped. Most of the solutions use a large organic molecule to help ãgrabä the mercury, making it easier to oxidate. Please remember the mercury molecule is small. It can penetrate Teflon tape. The chemicals in the solutions are large and cannot travel where mercury can go. The mercury will still be there. The solution will just suppress the vapors. No matter how much vacuuming, washing, and rinsing, the mercury stays there. Some of these solutions remain on and in the area for months after being put back into solution on every cleaning event. Making a possible for having a D009 hazardous waste. In a residential setting on the same floor as your child plays on, and your family pet eats off of.

Rader has developed several types of mercury removal compounds. These compounds are very aggressive to the mercury molecule. After the removal of the mercury vapor source, the compounds can be applied. Once the compounds are applied with a garden sprayer and not a mop, the compounds are left to dry and then the area in vacuumed twice. The area is rinsed with a second type of solution at least three times. To verify the area is mercury free wipe samples are taken.

Common problems are overlooked when applying chemical solutions:

  • The chemical solution is applied with a mop. Using a mop to put the solution down will spread the contamination. Misting the chemical solution with a garden sprayer reduces the threat of moving contamination to clean areas.
  • Not enough time is given for the chemical to work. Most chemical solutions and mercury must full dry before they are finished working.
  • Vacuuming the area is a must! Before the chemical compound is removed from the area. More than one treatment must be used.
  • Chemical solutions are not an alternative to mercury remediation! If you can find a chemical that removes mercury and not just masks it. They are great aids in the remediation process, but they do not replace it!

Rader also uses polymers to aid in spills. Once these polymers are applied with a spray bottle over the top of the spill area and elemental mercury the polymers are allowed to dry. The polymers ãtieä the mercury up in it. The polymers even change color to show mercury. At that time the contaminated areas can be cut away and disposed of in a legal ethical fashion. The areas, which do not show mercury contamination, can be thrown away in the trash. For a small spill, these polymers are a huge benefit. Not only do they remove the mercury contamination, but they also reduce the waste from the clean up efforts.

Chemistry of Mercury

Elemental mercury is a silver liquid metal that could be both acutely and chronically hazardous to human health. Mercury is incompatible with strong oxidizing agents, halogens, azides, acetylene, ammonia, chloride dioxide, and nitric acid. It targets such organs as the skin, respiratory system, central nervous system, kidneys, and the eyes. Mercury vaporizes at room temperature. Mercury is also a conductor of electricity.

Physical and Chemical Properties of Mercury

  • Molecular Formula Hg
  • Formula Weight 200.59
  • Specific Gravity 13.55
  • Vapor Density 7
  • Vapor Pressure: 1mm @ 126 C < 0.01 mm @ 20 C
  • ACGIH TLV-TWA 0.025 mg / m ³
  • OSHA PEL 0.05 mg / m ³
  • OSHA Ceiling 0.1 mg / m ³
  • ACGIH Ceiling 0.15 mg / m ³
  • IDLH 10 mg / m ³
  • Odor Threshold Odorless
  • Reportable Quantity 1 Lb.

The metal can be fatal if swallowed, inhaled, or absorbed through the skin. Vapors or mists are irritating to the eyes, mucous membranes, and upper respiratory tract. Acute poisoning will bring tightness of the chest, chest pains, and a metallic taste. Chronic poisoning will attack the central nervous system, and kidneys.

As a vapor, it penetrates the central nervous system, where it is oxidized. The oxidation product produces injury. Persons heavily exposed to elemental mercury will develop worsening tremors of the hands, shyness, insomnia, and emotional instability.

Field Screening Instruments for Mercury Vapors


Field screening instruments are very important in mercury remediation. Types range from real time samplers to detection tubes.

Lumex RA-915: There are two types of the RA-915. The Light and the Plus. The Light measures in micrograms / m³ and has a higher detection limit than the Plus. The Plus measures in nanograms/m³ and has a lower detection limit. Both machines offer an almost instantaneous, real time detection period, and use atomic absorption to arrive at their conclusions. We call our machines the Bloodhounds. Their benefits in help finding sources of mercury contamination are priceless.

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