Mercury thermostats are primarily used in homes and commercial places to regulate the temperatures of the rooms. Thermostats containing mercury should not be discarded with regular waste because mercury is very harmful to our health and the environment. Therefore, it can bring about great environmental damage if not well disposed of.
Mercury thermostats are categorized as universal waste, just like any other mercury-containing items, and therefore should be recycled. The article shows the best way of disposing mercury thermostats, the effects of mercury, and how to handle mercury spills.
Disposing mercury thermostat
Mercury thermostats are categorized as universal waste, just like any other mercury-containing items, and therefore should be recycled. If you need to replace your mercury thermostat with another new model, and you need to dispose of the old one, ensure that you don’t mix it with the regular waste.
Before disposing of the thermostat, check whether it has mercury. To do this, remove the front cover of the thermostat, and you will be able to see one or more glasses containing a silver-like liquid which is mercury. Ensure that you don’t break the glasses or the ampoules because the mercury inside might spill is hazardous to the environment. After identifying that mercury is in the thermostat, drop it to the household hazardous waste collection or take it to an electrical wholesaler for recycling.
Handling and storage guidelines for mercury-containing product waste
- Containers that contain mercury should not be stored for more than one year.
- Store mercury-added items in the designated area but not with the regular solid trash.
- Ensure that the mercury-added products are well identified through labeling.
- Any product that contains mercury must be treated as hazardous waste. If the mercury has in any way spilled on a specific item or trash, the trash should be sealed well and disposed of in the ‘hazardous trash bin’.
- Crush mercury-containing lambs. Store the lamps so that it is not easy for them to break since the breakages release vapors, which constitutes health problems and an environmental hazard.
- The packages for storing the lamps containing mercury must be more than five feet high.
- Complete packages of mercury should be sealed. It is not advisable to tape the lamps together as they can break. Furthermore, the sealed packages should be labeled rightly. For example, “mercury-added lamps waste.”
- When disposing of the mercury lamps, place them in containers that are similar to their new packages.
- If, in any case, mercury spills, clean it up immediately because the mercury will evaporate and release dangerous vapors that are odorless and are invisible.
Effects of mercury on the environment
Mercury is one of the hazardous waste, has significant and harmful effects on the environment. The following are how the mercury thermostats will affect the environment in case of improper disposal.
Water pollution. When the mercury is disposed of in water sources, the chemicals make the water unsafe for domestic use and agricultural use. When animals drink that water, they get sick and may even die. Human beings may also suffer from different kinds of diseases. Again, the animals may show some signs of mutation.
Steps on how to clean a mercury spill
1. Evacuate the area in which the mercury has spilled
Request everyone inside the contaminated room to leave and close the door and the windows. Turn off the ventilation system in the room to ensure that the mercury vapor does not spread all over the facility.
2. Use a protective face mask
The face mask will protect you from breathing the mercury. Breathing the vapor may cause problems with the breathing system of human beings or even cancer.
3. Put on protective clothing or old clothes
Change and wear old clothing that you will dispose of immediately after cleaning the spill; in case they will be contaminated.
4. Remove all kinds of jewelry
Take out all the jewelry in your hands to prevent mercury from combining and reacting with your jewelry.
5. Use hand gloves
The gloves should be either latex or rubber. Any piece of breakages should be picked and handled with care. Pack the broken pieces of glasses in a package and seal them. Label the package to show that it has waste that is mercury contaminated.
6. Find the spilled surface
Some surfaces can be easily cleaned, while others cannot be cleaned. For example, surfaces such as tiles and wood are easy to clean. However, surfaces such as carpets are not easy to clean, and therefore the best way to do away with the mercury in them is to throw them away or cut and dispose of the affected area.
7. Find all the mercury beads
Use cardboard to collect all the mercury beads carefully. Sweep them together in the same direction to avoid spreading them. If the room is dark, use lighting close to the surface to make sure you see all the beads and collect them all.
8. Pack the mercury beads
Draw up the mercury beads you have gathered together using an eyedropper and transfer them into a plastic container with an airtight lid. Close the container and label it that it contains contaminated mercury waste.
After collecting the larger beads, there are tiny beads that are left on the surface. Collect the smaller beads using sticky tape and zip the tape in a bag, and store.
Take all the tools and materials used during the whole cleanup process, put them in one bag, and seal them. Include the clothes you were wearing and the gloves. Seal the bag and label it appropriately.
9. Do the final disposal
Dispose of the final waste in the hazardous trash bin.
Ensure that the affected room is ventilated for at least twenty-four hours after cleaning. Then, open all the windows and start the ventilator. In case of any ‘unwell feeling’ visit the doctor as soon as possible.
In conclusion, the safest way to dispose of mercury thermostats or any other mercury-added materials is by recycling. Recycling reduces the amount of mercury that gets into the environment. The health facilities should ensure that there are bins that are made for mercury waste. Again, the local government should also ensure that the hazardous waste bins are placed near the local households to ensure that this waste is not disposed of.
The environment department should also make sure that there are proper collection methods of mercury waste for recycling. Finally, mercury is too harmful to our health and the environment, and therefore we should handle the mercury thermostat with great care to avoid breakage.