Mercury – The Facts, Myths and Clean Up Tips!

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Courtesy of Alpha-Purify

Mercury, the facts.

Mercury is an element (Hg on the periodic table) found naturally in the environment. Mercury emissions can come from both natural and man-made sources. It is commonly used in mercury arc lamps for UV curing, however this is a very minimal amount (as little as 5mg) and is used in the lamp to increase the voltage.

Due to the harmful effects of Mercury, many ‘Mercury Myths’ have begun to circulate and we are here to help clear up the facts from the fiction!

Common ‘Mercury Myths’

Mercury in a UV lamp is dependent on lamp size. Fiction

The mercury in a UV lamp varies from lamp to lamp, it is not necessarily dependent on size. It is used to increase the lamps voltage, therefore the higher voltage your system needs the more mercury your lamp will contain.

Mercury is harmful to the environment. Fact

Mercury is classified as a hazardous material and is harmful to the environment if it is not disposed of correctly. However, mercury can be introduced into the environment naturally from other sources. For example; coal contains mercury which can be realised into the environment when the coal is burnt, resulting in high mercury emissions. Because our lamps are recycled instead of being thrown into the bin, there is virtually no environment impact.

Mercury is harmful to me through contact. Fiction

Mercury is only harmful if it is ingested, so unless you plan to munch on your lamp for dinner then the mercury found inside it is completely safe.

Mercury itself isn’t harmful to us or the environment if handled correctly, therefore it’s important for us all to know how to handle UV lamps and what to do in the event of a Mercury spill.

Mercury Clean Up Tips

Mercury lamps are made from quartz and can break if mishandled or dropped. Be careful when removing the lamp from its packaging and also when installing or replacing it. In the case of a lamp breakage, some of the mercury could be realised into the environment if the situation isn’t handled correctly. To minimize exposure to mercury we recommend that you follow the recommended clean up steps and disposal procedure

What not to do:

  • Never use a vacuum cleaner to clean up mercury. This will spread mercury into the air.
  • Never use a broom to clean up mercury. This breaks up the mercury and spreads it.
  • Never pour mercury down a drain.
  •  Never wash something that has been contaminated as this will have mercury on it and when washed could pollute the water. It is best to dispose of anything that may have come into direct contact with mercury.

Alpha-Cure provides safe and cost effective mercury spill kits that enable staff to deal with mercury spills on any surface safely and easily with a minimum amount of training. These kits are a COSHH recommended system. They can be used on spills of all sizes and have a long shelf life of 3.5 years.

Each kit contains:

  • Absorbent Alloy Wool
  • Micro-fined Sulphur
  • Calcium Hydroxide
  • A mercury disposal bottle
  • Gloves
  • Mask
  • Brush
  • Syringe
  • Instructions
  • Red case- for easy identification in an emergency

When cleaning up make sure you evacuate the room, wear rubber, nitrile or latex gloves and follow the instructions given in your spill kit.

To purchase your Mercury spill kit please contact us now either via telephone on 01327 263 900 or email

Or you can fill in our on-line form by clicking the ‘request a quote’ button located in our side bar.

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