Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Pointless Post about Mercury

I noticed recently that there is a lack of blog posts out there in cyber space dealing with thermometers. I decided tonight to fill that void.

So like I said in a previous post, I'm sick. Yesterday I spent a good 5 minutes digging through my CVS drawer to find my thermometer. It's one of those old ones filled with mercury. And well, today (just now, really) it was on top of my dresser and I noticed that the tip of it had broken off. So of course my immediate response was 'Oh great, now I'm going to die of mercury poisoning'. Yes, I realize I may be a wee bit over dramatic.

Anyway, after checking to see that the mercury, as far as I could tell, was still inside the thermometer, I emailed my Mom and Joe asking them if I was going to die. Here is what my mom wrote me back:

Mom: You may have spilled it (the mercury) on your bed or clothes. Don't lick either one.
Me: It broke on my dresser. I'll make sure not to lick it.
Mom: You'll be fine then. 

Joe on the other hand, did some actual research before he responded. He sent me a link to some fancy-schmancy site on the interweb with explicit directions on how to clean up a broken thermometer. But the directions were too complicated and the list of supplies too specific. So I decided to just open my window and call it a night. Hopefully I won't die of mercury vapor inhalation.

In conclusion, if I ever write a book I will call it "Don't Lick the Mercury and other Invaluable Advice My Mother Gave Me".


  1. I mean really ... to specific...

    Let the readers decide:

    Items needed to clean up a small mercury spill

    1. 4-5 ziplock-type bags
    2. trash bags (2 to 6 mils thick)
    3. rubber, nitrile or latex gloves
    4. paper towels
    5. cardboard or squeegee
    6. eyedropper
    7. duct tape, or shaving cream and small paint brush
    8. flashlight
    9. powdered sulfur (optional)


    You trying to tell me you don't have a hazardous spill kit that contains all those items for the once in a lifetime mercury spill.

    Really Maggie it's time to join the 21st century ... a mercury thermometer so old fashioned... or at least keep the hazardous spill kit handy!


    1. my favorite is number 7. really? shaving cream and a small paint brush? I'm surprised they didn't specify the exact size of the bristles needed.

      oh and a squeegee. seriously?? seriously??

  2. When I was a kid (about a thousand years ago), we broke a thermometer once. I can remember how surprised I was that the "stuff" inside the tube, spilled out and turned into a little silver ball that rolled around on the floor. I can't remember any particular panic or haz-mat clean-up. Can I blame any of my bad decisions or behavior on mercury exposure?

  3. That's so funny, Thorny Rose! I told Maggie pretty much the same story about the little silver ball rolling around the floor! My brothers and I used to play with those little mercury beads every time we broke a thermometer - nothing ever happened - at least that I know of!

    And Maggie, I'm happy that you liked my advice! Your mother is a wise latina!