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(KTVB Boise)   Headline choices: EVERYBODY PANIC OVER MERCURY SPILL or Hospital overreacts to broken thermometer in an adjacent building   (ktvb.com) divider line 42
    More: Stupid, lockdowns  
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2883 clicks; posted to Main » on 14 Aug 2013 at 5:34 PM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



42 Comments   (+0 »)
   
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2013-08-14 05:35:52 PM
In this day an age, I'm surprised they don't go into lock down if someone breaks one of those 4'-8' long fluorescent bulbs that are ubiquitous in most buildings, especially hospitals.
 
2013-08-14 05:37:32 PM

meat0918: In this day an age, I'm surprised they don't go into lock down if someone breaks one of those 4'-8' long fluorescent bulbs that are ubiquitous in most buildings, especially hospitals.


DON'T GIVE THEM IDEAS!
 
2013-08-14 05:38:19 PM
FTFA:  County dispatch and hospital spokeswoman Sue Vahlberg said the report was of an undetermined amount of mercury that spilled at the maintenance shop behind the hospital.

Subby, we're going to learn you a few things:

1) Hospitals do not use mercury thermometers anymore. They're inaccurate, slow and infection hazards.
2) They wouldn't store them in the maintenance shop anyway.
3) Large amounts of mercury liquid offgas and can get into the ventilation system and endanger patients and staff.

Basically, they implemented their on-site plan for a Hazardous Materials spill. Not really seeing how this is news.
 
2013-08-14 05:42:05 PM
When I was a kid, we used to put mercury on dimes and quarters.  It made them really shiny, for awhile.

We played with it some.  Elemental mercury is not dangerous.  I don't recommend ingesting it, tho.

People are scared of everything now, it seems.
 
2013-08-14 05:42:25 PM
Mercury vapor ain't nuthin to fark wit,
Mercury vapor ain't nuthin to fark wit,
MERCURY VAPOR AIN'T NUTHIN TO FARK WIT
 
2013-08-14 05:46:27 PM
1. No mention it was just a thermometer, the maintenance shop of a hospital might stock mercury in bigger volume.

2. It would not surprise me if it was just a thermometer, hospitals some time take measure that seem excessive to protect against possible lawsuits.

/from a generation that used mercury in high school science class with no ill effect.
 
2013-08-14 05:47:02 PM
Did they think it was going to turn into that guy from Terminator?
 
2013-08-14 05:49:09 PM

Inflatable Rhetoric: When I was a kid, we used to put mercury on dimes and quarters.  It made them really shiny, for awhile.

We played with it some.  Elemental mercury is not dangerous.  I don't recommend ingesting it, tho.

People are scared of everything now, it seems.


When I was 10 I broke our thermometer on the lamp (I saw ET not too long before) and then proceeded to play with the mercury for awhile. I had to hide it before my mother came home and beat my ass for breaking the thermometer.
 
2013-08-14 05:52:13 PM
Meh, I've got 10 kg of mercury in my garage. The reaction with aluminium is cool as is mixing it with nitric acid and ethanol.

LumberJack: Mercury vapor ain't nuthin to fark wit,
Mercury vapor ain't nuthin to fark wit,
MERCURY VAPOR AIN'T NUTHIN TO FARK WIT


Settle down Francis. If you don't inhale or ingest it everything's fine.

/Next you'll be telling me I shouldn't mouth pipette acrylamide. Pussy.
 
2013-08-14 05:55:05 PM
FTFA:  County dispatch and hospital spokeswoman Sue Vahlberg said the report was of an undetermined amount of mercury that spilled at the maintenance shop behind the hospital.

Subby, we're going to learn you a few things:

1) Hospitals do not use mercury thermometers anymore. They're inaccurate, slow and infection hazards.


Can't argue with the rest of your points but, when handled properly, a mercury in glass thermometer is far more accurate than anything a hospital is going to be able to afford.   It's also far more accurate than needed for patient care so the electronics are acceptable alternatives.
 
2013-08-14 06:02:44 PM

Tyrosine: Meh, I've got 10 kg of mercury in my garage. The reaction with aluminium is cool as is mixing it with nitric acid and ethanol.

LumberJack: Mercury vapor ain't nuthin to fark wit,
Mercury vapor ain't nuthin to fark wit,
MERCURY VAPOR AIN'T NUTHIN TO FARK WIT

Settle down Francis. If you don't inhale or ingest it everything's fine.

/Next you'll be telling me I shouldn't mouth pipette acrylamide. Pussy.


Pfffft. You couldn't even handle the song Killa Hg.
 
2013-08-14 06:22:14 PM

talkertopc: 1. ...the maintenance shop of a hospital might stock mercury in bigger volume.


Why?

/serious
 
2013-08-14 06:37:36 PM
When we were kids in the 50's, we would break radio tubes and get the mercury and play with it in our hands. I still have some pennies that I smeared mercury on. As far as I know, none of my friends died fro mercury poisoning.
 
2013-08-14 06:41:33 PM
Some of the mercury oxides and organo compounds though are really dangerous. Like chemical warfare agent level, glove box, two pairs of gloves dangerous.
 
2013-08-14 06:43:51 PM
www.arcadiastreet.com

What's that Unidentified Fluorescent Object?
 
2013-08-14 06:54:33 PM

radiumsoup: talkertopc: 1. ...the maintenance shop of a hospital might stock mercury in bigger volume.

Why?

/serious


I'm thinking that some of the medical equipment they maintain might use mercury. Notice that I use the word "might" as I'm really not sure about this.
 
2013-08-14 07:03:20 PM

Pointy Tail of Satan: Some of the mercury oxides and organo compounds though are really dangerous. Like chemical warfare agent level, glove box, two pairs of gloves dangerous.


Dimethylmercury.  Scary shiat.
 
2013-08-14 07:06:13 PM
Seeing as though mercury is fairly mobile and potentially dangerous, I don't blame a friggin hospital for ensuring they weren't contaminated.
 
2013-08-14 07:06:40 PM
Sprinkle some damn sulphur on it and sweep it up
 
2013-08-14 07:10:49 PM

Inflatable Rhetoric: When I was a kid, we used to put mercury on dimes and quarters.  It made them really shiny, for awhile.

We played with it some.  Elemental mercury is not dangerous.  I don't recommend ingesting it, tho.

People are scared of everything now, it seems.


Elemental mercury is VERY dangerous. I was had to work a city-wide mercury hazmat clean up caused by a utility worker who inadvertently was spilling thimble sized containers of mercury in people's basements (from their manometers, about 13 yeas ago). We had to trash everything in the house, wedding pics, kids toys, rip up all the carpet...while wearing pretty scary looking hazmat suits. Don't fark with mercury.
 
2013-08-14 07:36:47 PM

radiumsoup: talkertopc: 1. ...the maintenance shop of a hospital might stock mercury in bigger volume.

Why?

/serious


I'm old enough to remember getting my blood pressure checked with a mercury manometer, maybe they had some of those relics, or the mercury used to service them?

Also for the "we played with it in science class" crowd... poisoning by any of the heavy metals could take five or ten points off your IQ, and you might never know it... but you might not live up to the potential that you had pre-exposure.  Not all poisoning ends in death or even obvious symptoms.

/played with it in science class... built an awesome barometer
 
2013-08-14 07:46:49 PM

LumberJack: Mercury vapor ain't nuthin to fark wit,
Mercury vapor ain't nuthin to fark wit,
MERCURY VAPOR AIN'T NUTHIN TO FARK WIT


Well, yes. True. Farkwits aren't afraiid of anything. They don't know no better because they are farkwits
 
2013-08-14 08:18:45 PM
I played with mercury from thermometers and mercury tilt switches a few times when I was younger. It is toxic and not something to fool around with casually but there is a tendency these days to *WAY* overreact to spills. A thimble of mercury spilled in the basement is no reason to call in a hazmat team unless you fear a lawsuit from one of those hyper-reacting people and wish to demonstrate how serious you are about protecting them.

The majority of mercury in the average persons body comes from consuming tuna.
 
2013-08-14 08:35:30 PM

talkertopc: radiumsoup: talkertopc: 1. ...the maintenance shop of a hospital might stock mercury in bigger volume.

Why?

/serious

I'm thinking that some of the medical equipment they maintain might use mercury. Notice that I use the word "might" as I'm really not sure about this.

Mercury arc lamps are used on fluorescence microscopes in hospitals. I've never seen one break, but the proper procedure to follow if one breaks while in operation is RUNNNN!
 
2013-08-14 08:36:10 PM
Bwah hahaha. Reminds me of decades ago when someone broke a mercury bulb on a thermostat at a state office building in Juneau, Alaska. Oh, the fear, horror and outrage! The fumes from the new carpet "sickened" dozens. Bwah hahaha!
 
2013-08-14 08:41:01 PM

James10952001: I played with mercury from thermometers and mercury tilt switches a few times when I was younger. It is toxic and not something to fool around with casually but there is a tendency these days to *WAY* overreact to spills. A thimble of mercury spilled in the basement is no reason to call in a hazmat team unless you fear a lawsuit from one of those hyper-reacting people and wish to demonstrate how serious you are about protecting them.

The majority of mercury in the average persons body comes from consuming tuna.


I'm sure that was part of it (utility company was footing the bill and didn't want any lawsuits coming back to haunt them).

I won't try to convince the "I played with mercury as a child" group (maybe they should hang out with the "my doctor prescribed smoking in the 1960s as a weight loss aid" group). But the science is there, the deaths and impairment are documented. Elemental mercury vaporizes at room temperature, and the toxic vapors you breathe in are what do the real damage (not much gets through the skin from handling it). It has a more potent effect on the very young and very old. Many of the houses that were contaminated had young children. The mercury was tracked throughout the house...ever drop a gob on a hard surface and watch it break into a hundred little roly poly balls that disperse across the room with great speed? These people had tracked it throughout the house, and the air monitoring we did proved dangerous levels of vapor.

Unrelated to that cleanup, there was also an old couple that died in their home from putting a broken, household thermometer on the stove. If anyone wants to see what we currently know about mercury versus 40 years ago, go online and find the video where you can see it vaporizing under special filming conditions.
 
2013-08-14 09:27:37 PM

MarkEC: talkertopc: radiumsoup: talkertopc: 1. ...the maintenance shop of a hospital might stock mercury in bigger volume.

Why?

/serious

I'm thinking that some of the medical equipment they maintain might use mercury. Notice that I use the word "might" as I'm really not sure about this.
Mercury arc lamps are used on fluorescence microscopes in hospitals. I've never seen one break, but the proper procedure to follow if one breaks while in operation is RUNNNN!


I broke a similar lamp once.  You are correct, the thing to do is run.  The fumes are bad shiat.
 
2013-08-14 09:30:30 PM
I guess they need to declare every school that held science classes before 1980 or so a toxic waste site.


Witness99: ...ever drop a gob on a hard surface and watch it break into a hundred little roly poly balls that disperse across the room with great speed?


On a smooth tile floor, we got a bright, shiny splash which simply vanished. Any remaining globs were invisibly small (and undoubtedly spread into every nook and cranny in the classroom).
 
2013-08-14 09:52:54 PM

common sense is an oxymoron: I guess they need to declare every school that held science classes before 1980 or so a toxic waste site.


Witness99: ...ever drop a gob on a hard surface and watch it break into a hundred little roly poly balls that disperse across the room with great speed?

On a smooth tile floor, we got a bright, shiny splash which simply vanished. Any remaining globs were invisibly small (and undoubtedly spread into every nook and cranny in the classroom).


It vaporizes, it's gone by now. But you can bet that universities that have similar instances today get the full decontamination treatment.
 
2013-08-14 10:01:43 PM
Okay, nobody tell them about the ~8oz of mercury I have in a bottle on the other side of my computer room.

/It's just sitting there. Plotting.
//Waiting to pounce.
///If it attacks while I'm on the 'net I'll be the Silver Surfer!
 
2013-08-14 10:21:34 PM

Tyrosine: LumberJack: Mercury vapor ain't nuthin to fark wit,
Mercury vapor ain't nuthin to fark wit,
MERCURY VAPOR AIN'T NUTHIN TO FARK WIT

Settle down Francis. If you don't inhale or ingest it everything's fine.

/Next you'll be telling me I shouldn't mouth pipette acrylamide. Pussy.


brantgoose: LumberJack: Mercury vapor ain't nuthin to fark wit,
Mercury vapor ain't nuthin to fark wit,
MERCURY VAPOR AIN'T NUTHIN TO FARK WIT

Well, yes. True. Farkwits aren't afraiid of anything. They don't know no better because they are farkwits


Guess I'll just chalk this up to Wu-Tang joke failure. I'mma go put a coat hanger on the stove for, like, half an hour...
 
2013-08-14 11:07:12 PM

LumberJack: Guess I'll just chalk this up to Wu-Tang joke failure. I'mma go put a coat hanger on the stove for, like, half an hour...


Yeah, the soulful allure of rap and hip-hop continues to elude me, so if you were referencing the Wu Tang Clan then it was lost on me.

What I said about mercury is true. It's effect on aluminium is astonishing. Also, you should probably not mix it with nitric acid and ethanol.
 
2013-08-14 11:10:20 PM

jgk3: It's also far more accurate than needed for patient care so the electronics are acceptable alternatives.


The problems with glass thermometers outweigh the accuracy when used rectally. In addition, there are situations where you don't want to spend three to five minutes obtaining a temperature, and situations where real time temperature monitoring is critical.
 
2013-08-14 11:34:47 PM

Witness99: Inflatable Rhetoric: When I was a kid, we used to put mercury on dimes and quarters.  It made them really shiny, for awhile.

We played with it some.  Elemental mercury is not dangerous.  I don't recommend ingesting it, tho.

People are scared of everything now, it seems.

Elemental mercury is VERY dangerous. I was had to work a city-wide mercury hazmat clean up caused by a utility worker who inadvertently was spilling thimble sized containers of mercury in people's basements (from their manometers, about 13 yeas ago). We had to trash everything in the house, wedding pics, kids toys, rip up all the carpet...while wearing pretty scary looking hazmat suits. Don't fark with mercury.


Oh people that over react to mercury. Trash everything, including wedding pics while wearing hazmat suits, uh huh. I could see tossing the kids toys out of fear and ripping up the carpet but that's about it. Anything else is easily handled with a mercury vacuum or turned into an amalgam with zinc powder or sulfur if on a budget. Yes, I've handled mercury spills, easy to handle, no fuss, no muss. You have to get some crazy serious mercury exposure to get affected by it. Even ingesting it leads only to minor exposure unless you eat it daily. Gots me an MS in Chem as proof I knows what I'm talking about *does that suspender snap move of smuggness*.
medias.gifboom.com
Now if you were talking about organic mercury, you couldn't pay me enough to deal with that shiat. That shiat is legit scary. Remember, you only really need to soil yourself in fear of what chemists fear. If you hear anything about organic mercury, chlorine gas, thallium, a large amount of elemental sodium or potassium not stored in oil or kerosene, hydrofluoric acid, or anhydrous ammonia just say nope and leave the room. Also a bunch of stuff biochemists play with, they deal with DNA manipulation lots so they gots lots of stuff that will wreack havoc with your DNA if improperly handled.
 
2013-08-15 12:11:48 AM
i.imgur.com

Freddie just spilled all over your thread.
 
2013-08-15 12:47:49 AM

flemardo: Also a bunch of stuff biochemists play with, they deal with DNA manipulation lots so they gots lots of stuff that will wreack havoc with your DNA if improperly handled.


DNA manipulation is mainly done with enzymes like ligases and endonucleases, which are harmless, but in terms of true chemical reagents the list is fairly tame: Phenol, ethidium bromide, acrylamide, etc. Even if you're working hot you really have to go out of your way to hurt yourself. The worst I saw was a dumbass walking around with phenol covered gloves contaminating everything she touched including the phone and a half dozen doorknobs. Rumor has it she even gave herself phenol burns when using the washroom.

Some of the old protocols used by cytologists forfixation could be scary if mishandled: Picric and nitric acids are (were?) used a lot. It's been awhile since I did any of that stuff but I imagine there are newer protocols available with less "risky" reagents.
 
2013-08-15 02:06:52 AM
Has anybody mentioned the fulminate of mercury -picric acid  party poppers yet.
Nobody parties like Stumpy..
 
2013-08-15 05:20:25 AM

flemardo: If you hear anything about organic mercury, chlorine gas, thallium, a large amount of elemental sodium or potassium not stored in oil or kerosene, hydrofluoric acid, or anhydrous ammonia just say nope and leave the room


HF is some scary, scary stuff. I use it as part of my research: we basically immerse meteorites in HF, stick it in the microwave (a special lab microwave, not a household one), dissolve bits of the rocks we don't want, and repeat the process with other acids (nitric, hydrochloric, etc.) until all that's left is the stuff we're interested in, which in turn gets fed into the mass spectrometer.

One shouldn't fark around with any acid, but HF is particularly worrisome.

On a related note, the "Things I Won't Work With" series of blog posts by a chemist is really amusing and scary.
 
2013-08-15 05:21:30 AM
I was never able to master the "shake down" technique required to zero a mercury medical thermometer. That's the main thing I remember about them. Of course, I just used one at home to check for fever, and my sister was a nurse so I'd give it to her to flick around.
 
2013-08-15 09:51:30 AM

Pointy Tail of Satan: Some of the mercury oxides and organo compounds though are really dangerous. Like chemical warfare agent level, glove box, two pairs of gloves dangerous.


Some Hg compounds are dangerous.  Elemental Hg is not.
 
2013-08-15 09:53:02 AM
You can make a huge telescope mirror, say 24" or 48", by using a rotating pool of mercury.  I think there's a Scientific American article about it.
 
2013-08-15 04:18:26 PM
Elemental mercury vapor is dangerous.  It may have a low vapor pressure, but it will still produce vapors and umol quantities can be dangerous.   Please stop misinforming people.
 
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