Mercury poisoning: symptoms, first aid and treatment
Jun 07, 2018
Mercury is a dangerous chemical that, when ingested, leads not only to deterioration of health, but in some cases to death.The release of mercury into the human body can occur in different ways, so you need to know what symptoms will indicate mercury poisoning, how to provide first aid to the victim, and how to protect yourself from the phenomenon in question.Table of contents: Ways of possible mercury poisoning Mercury effect on human body Symptoms of mercury poisoning What to do if a thermometer is broken How to dispose of collected mercury from a broken thermometer
Ways of possible mercury poisoning
There are three main mercury sources that are potentially dangerous forOf the human body:
- Food .We are talking about shellfish and sea fish, which live in contaminated water areas.In such cases, mollusks and sea fish accumulate a large amount of mercury, and even after careful / deep heat treatment of products, the level of acceptable safety is not reached.
- Household .Thermometers and energy-saving lamps contain mercury, so they must be treated with extreme caution.In the initial state, these household items do not pose a danger to humans, but if they are broken, then it is necessary to quickly collect the emitted mercury as its vapors are really harmful.In everyday life, mercury can be found in mercury tonometers( a tool for measuring blood pressure), but now they are not used, because there are modern devices.
- Medical .In the production of vaccines, amalgam-based dental fillings, certain medications, mercury is also widely used.
Influence of mercury on the human body
The most dangerous is the inhalation of mercury vapor by a person, and getting the chemical in question into the gastrointestinal tract, on the contrary, represents a minimal health hazard - it is not practically absorbed.If, however, mercury enters the human body in the form of salts, the symptoms of poisoning will appear almost immediately and will have a pronounced character.
Please note: mercury salts are contained in medicines for external use, so they should only be used in strict accordance with the instructions.In addition, mercury salts are part of some fungicidal agents used in agriculture and wagering the production of paintwork materials - when working with these substances, you must follow safety rules.
Mercury adversely affects human health, regardless of age, but symptoms of poisoning in children and women are particularly pronounced.The problem is that mercury molecules are very difficult to remove from the body, and in some cases this process is generally impossible, the harmful substance remains in the tissues and cells, continuing to disastrously affect the work of organs and systems.
Consequences of this "delayed" poisoning with mercury are:
- pathological disorders of the genitourinary system;
- development of inflammatory / infectious diseases of the digestive system;
- pathological lesion of the central nervous system.
Symptoms of mercury poisoning
Mercury poisoning can be acute and chronic. Acute mercury poisoning occurs in connection with production disorders or accidents, but chronic poisoning is diagnosed against the background of the constant inhalation of the vapor of the chemical in question - for example, if a thermometer was broken and the leaked mercury was not completely removed.
Symptoms of acute mercury poisoning:
- Headache .It has a constant character, is characterized by increasing intensity, always accompanied by high fatigue.
- Bleeding from the gums .This symptom appears almost immediately, it is characterized by high intensity.Usually the victims make complaints simultaneously on bleeding from the gums and metallic taste in the mouth.
- Dysfunction of the digestive tract .It's about nausea, vomiting and diarrhea( diarrhea), in rare cases, all these symptoms are accompanied by intestinal colic.
- Cough .The victim begins to suffocate from attacks of a dry cough, within several hours from the moment of a poisoning it starts to disturb a dyspnea and in rest without a tussis, in the field of a breast the painful syndrome progresses.
Note: in extremely severe cases of acute mercury poisoning in the victim is rapidly developing pulmonary edema, necrosis of the kidneys and other dangerous complications that lead to death.
Symptoms of chronic mercury poisoning:
- increased fatigue;
- a constant sensation of drowsiness;
- regular headaches of low intensity;
- unmotivated irritability;
- apathy to the outside world;
- sustained tremor of the upper limbs( hand trembling);
- reduced sense of smell and taste.
Note: if a negative effect on the human body is a long time, then there are pathological lesions in the thyroid gland and problems in the work of the heart and the vascular system.
It is worth remembering that when poisoning with salts and / or mercury vapor, the central nervous system first suffers - the victim becomes excessively irritable, feels very tired, complains of a constant headache, and sleep problems begin.Then, if during this period there are no actions to improve health, mercury poisoning leads to a steady rise in body temperature, inflammation foci appear in the oral cavity( ulcers / wounds, similar to stomatitis), upper limbs and the whole body begins to tremble, sweating is markedAnd disruption of the digestive system.
Most often, mercury poisoning at the household level occurs after the thermometer broke - a banal case, but very dangerous for health, if not take some measures.Often this problem concerns small children - they not only can break a thermometer, but also swallow balls of mercury.
What to do if the thermometer
is broken First of all, you do not need to panic - it is quite possible to take measures to eliminate the danger from spilled mercury at home. The following procedure must be observed:
- Open windows / windows / doors at once - fresh air must be supplied and the room temperature lowered, as the warmer the air in the room, the more active the harmful fumes of mercury are released.
- In the room where the thermometer was broken, restrict people's access - just close the doors.At the entrance to the room you need to put a rug, soaked in a solution of potassium permanganate - this will prevent the spread of vapors through the apartment / house.
- The next step is to become demercurization - on sale there are special kits for this process.But since it is necessary to act immediately, we proceed from what is available in every home medicine cabinet:
- all things and surfaces in the room where the thermometer was broken are carefully inspected - everything that is contaminated should be folded into plastic bags and removed fromApartments / houses.For mercury to be considered easier, you can use a bright flashlight;
- collect all the fragments from the thermometer and mercury balls - for this use a rubber pear( "syringe"), a scoop, a sheet of cardboard, and in order to comply with the safety regulations for working with chemicals, you need to wear rubber gloves;
Please note: is not recommended to collect mercury beads with a vacuum cleaner, although demercurization professionals use this household equipment.But, firstly, the usual vacuum cleaner after collection of mercury balls can not be used for its intended purpose, and secondly, even the washing vacuum cleaner will be suitable for further use only after treatment with special disinfecting solutions.
- floors and all items that have been exposed to mercury, should be thoroughly washed with a chlorine-containing solution, and then with a solution of potassium permanganate.And, you need to follow a certain sequence: first, floors / items are washed with chlorine solution, then( after 10 minutes - this time is needed to dry hard surfaces) - a solution of potassium permanganate.
What is the essence of this "event"?Mercury ceases to be liquid - salts of this chemical are formed that do not emit toxic fumes at all, but are dangerous when ingested in the human digestive system.
In addition to everything written, you need to take care not only about the cleanliness of the room, but also about your own health:
- wash the shoes in which were in the room, soap-soda solution or manganese;
- mouth and throat thoroughly rinse with a weak solution of potassium permanganate( it should be slightly pink);
- brush your teeth;
- drink 2-3 tablets of activated charcoal.
What to do if a child swallows a mercury ball:
- give him plenty of water to drink;
- induce vomiting;
- call the ambulance team.
How to dispose of collected mercury from a broken thermometer
This question is asked by many - just throwing it in garbage will be wrong, even dangerous for others.It is necessary to take the mercury collected in a plastic bag to the regional department of the Ministry of Emergency Situations - they are obliged to take mercury for disposal.True, most often you have to be persistent in this matter.There is an option and another - to collect mercury in a plastic bag and fill it with chlorine or chlorine-containing substances.Then this package is wrapped up in a few more and you can be sure that the chemical in question is neutralized - quietly thrown into the garbage.
Note: if there are doubts about the competent utilization of mercury from the broken thermometer, then it is necessary to call specialists.Ecologists will not only conduct cleaning works, but also measure the content of mercury vapor in the air.
Mercury poisoning is a dangerous condition that leads to the development of severe complications, and in the case of not providing timely medical assistance and lethal outcome.Specialists recommend replacing all mercury thermometers with modern electronic ones.
Tsygankova Yana Aleksandrovna, medical reviewer, therapeutist of the highest qualification category