Voltammetry – Mercury handling

Mercury life cycle
Mercury is a poisonous heavy metal. You should therefore observe a few rules to protect yourself and the environment when using it.

Mercury life cycle
  • Occupational health and safety
  • No loss of mercury during use, 100% recovery
  • Environmental protection

Occupational health and safety

Collecting mercury drops

The mercury in the Multi-Mode Electrode is found in a closed system. Direct contact is therefore only possible when using and servicing the electrode.

You can ensure that mercury is handled safely by following a few simple measures:

  1. The most important rule when handling elemental mercury: Do not inhale mercury vapors!
  2. Always store mercury in a closed container.  Mercury must never be left in open vessels. An overlaying layer of water or supporting electrolyte does not suppress mercury evaporation. The tightly closed, small, unbreakable mercury container as well as all parts that are contaminated with mercury must be stored in a fume cupboard, which is always switched on.
  3. Working in a fume cupboard. The handling of open mercury, e.g., maintenance of the Multi-Mode Electrode or Multi-Mode Electrode pro, should always be carried out in a fume cupboard (fume hood).
  4. Working over plastic trays. Vessels containing mercury must be carried in, or at least above, rigid seamless trays made of plastic or enameled metal. The supplied 6.2711.030 drip pan made of polystyrene is particularly suitable for this.
  5. Collecting spilled mercury drops. Single mercury drops in the drip pan or any other spilled mercury can be bound in a simple manner by amalgamation:
    • With silver (Ag): Mercury drop catcher type 6.2406.000, which is included in the scope of delivery of the 797 VA Computrace.
    • With tin (Sn): e.g., thin tin foil supplied by Merck, Sigma-Aldrich or other chemistry suppliers
    • With special laboratory aids: e.g., Chemizorb® Hg (www.merckmillipore.com), Mercsorb® mercury spill kit (www.sigmaaldrich.com) or Mercurisorb-ROTH® (www.carlroth.com) Do not use a vacuum cleaner or a broom!
  6. Ventilate laboratory areas well. Rooms where work with mercury is being carried out should be thoroughly aired from time to time.
  7. Personal protective equipment
    • Gloves: Simple laboratory gloves are not suitable for handling mercury. If you want to effectively protect yourself against contact with mercury and, above all, mercury compounds, you must use category II or III (EN 374) chemical protective gloves, made of nitrile rubber with a thickness of 0.11 mm, for example.
    • Protective glasses
    • Lab coat
    • Hygiene measures: Wash hands after working with mercury, do not eat, drink, and smoke when using mercury, apply skin-protective barrier cream, immediately change contaminated clothing.

No loss of mercury during use, 100% recovery

Important: Mercury must never be disposed of with the regular municipal waste!

Collecting mercury with the mercury drop catcher

Collecting mercury 

When the Multi-Mode Electrode is used, mercury accumulates on the bottom of the measuring vessel and must be collected for later disposal.

This can be done by emptying the analysis solutions in a large vessel. From there the mercury can be collected by means of the mercury drop catcher (6.2406.000) or the overlaying solution is decanted and the used mercury is collected in a closed waste container.

The storage container of the mercury drop catcher should be emptied regularly and rinsed thoroughly several times. If the mercury drop catcher is used outside the fume cupboard, keep a minimum safety distance of 50 cm between your head and the mercury trap.

Please note! Do not use the mercury catcher directly in the measuring vessel if you perform trace analysis!
Disposal of used mercury

Mercury can be purified, but this requires an extensive laboratory setup and considerable time. For this reason, we recommend collecting waste mercury in a closed container and then sending it for disposal or recycling to the responsible authorities or authorized companies in accordance with the particular national regulations.

Options to dispose of used mercury from the lab:
  • Recyclers of fluorescent lamps
  • Battery recyclers
  • Mercury suppliers

FAQs

  • How dangerous is handling mercury?

  • Where can I find more information on the topic of mercury and health?