If a silver-white mercury thermometer should break, the mercury inside will evaporate, posing the potential of mercury poisoning.
If Mercury Spills
If the mercury should spill from the thermometer, keep people and pets away from the area. Turn off any fans, air conditioners or heaters, but open the windows to ventilate the area. Never use a vacuum to clean up spilled mercury. The heat and blowing air from the vacuum will spread the mercury throughout your home. Do not use a broom, either, as the broom will spread the beads of mercury and also contaminate the broom.
To clean up any mercury that has spilled, use gloves, an eyedropper and two pieces of paper or cardboard. Take off any jewelry that may come into contact with the mercury and put on rubber gloves. If the mercury is on a hard surface, use the paper to push the mercury together into a pile and use the eyedropper to suck it up. Place the mercury in a wide mouth container and seal it closed. Small beads of mercury can be picked up with sticky tape and placed in a sealed plastic bag along with gloves, eyedropper and paper.
If mercury should spill on a carpet, cut that section out and place it in a sealed bag. If a thermometer should break in a sink of water, the mercury will sink to the bottom. Remove as much water as possible without disturbing the mercury and then recover the mercury with an eyedropper and follow the same procedures as listed above.
Bring any items that have been in contact with mercury to the Otter Tail County Household Hazardous Waste Facility or to a scheduled household hazardous waste mobile collection.