The 6 Things You Need To Do If You Are Exposed To Mercury

Elemental mercury is a silver, odorless liquid.

Today’s post comes from guest author Catherine Stanton from Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano.

Irving J. Selikoff Center for Occupational & Environmental Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine has released a guide to treatment for elemental mercury ((the pure form of the metal, when it is not combined with other chemicals) exposure. There are other forms of mercury, such as compounds found in contaminated fish, known as organic mercury and those are not covered by the guide.

Workers who experience a one-time sudden exposure to any chemical substance at work, should:

  1. Gather as much information as you can about the type and amount of exposure, including labels, Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), and the medical emergency phone number on the MSDS. 
  2. If you are feeling ill, seek medical attention at an emergency department (ED) immediately. It is best if a medical toxicologist is consulted as part of your visit to the ED. They can be reached for advice about treatment by having the healthcare professional contact the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222. 
  3. You can call the PCC independently for recommendations as well.
  4. Once the urgent situation has been taken care of, you may contact the nearest occupational health clinic in New York State or in the country for recommendations and follow-up.
  5. This fact sheet is not a substitute for medical care. The purpose is to direct the exposed worker to the proper medical provider. 
  6. Report any exposure to your employer immediately. Complete an incident or exposure form. If none is available, write a memo informing them of the exposure incident (date, time, location, what you were doing in the area, and for how long). Keep copies and insist that documents are placed in your personnel files.

You can download a copy of the fact sheet by clicking here. It contains more information about the following topics:

  • How can I be exposed to elemental mercury?
  • What are the symptoms and illnesses caused by overexposure?
  • Do I need immediate medical care?
  • Do I need to see a doctor and what kind?
  • Do I need certain tests and how quickly?
  • Are there tests that would prove I have recently been exposed?
  • What is the treatment for acute exposures?
  • What follow-up is needed?
  • How does this information apply to children and others in the community?
  • Suggested further readings

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