Safely Disposing of Mercury in Medical Practice

Doctor holding medical injection syringe and stethoscope

Doctor holding medical injection syringe and stethoscopeMedical professionals commonly encounter mercury and other hazardous substances in their practice. There are strict protocols regarding its disposal. A waste management company can safely remove, transport, and dispose of mercury and other potentially toxic products.

A surprising number of items used in family practice contain mercury, a metal that is toxic to humans in high levels. Exposure to the metal can cause nervous system damage and cognitive impairment in babies and children, numbness and ‘pins and needles’, muscle weakness, and problems with coordination and speech. Mercury poisoning may also cause vision and hearing damage, twitching, headaches, rashes, mood swings, and memory loss.

It’s important to learn about proper hazardous waste disposal in Utah or any other state. Medical products that contain mercury include:

  • Blood pressure gauges
  • Fluorescent lamps
  • Esophageal dilators
  • Dental amalgam fillings
  • Biomedical mercuric compounds
  • Some antiseptic skin creams
  • Contact lens solutions
  • Medicines containing thimerosal, thimerosalate, Ethylmercury sodium salt, Merfamin, SET, Aeroaid, Curativ, Mercural, Merthiolate salt, Merthiolate sodium, Merzonin, sodium salt, Thiomersalan, Vitasepto, and other similar names all mean compounds that contain mercury
  • Some influenza, meningitis, and hepatitis vaccines may contain trace amounts of thimerosal, a 49.5% mercury compound.

Managing Mercury Products

To safely store mercury waste, place it in a tight-fitting container with cat litter as a shock absorber. Label it as mercury so that other people won’t open it. Keep the products in their original container with the usage instructions. Keep away from children.

If a mercury is spilled, don’t walk in the area. Shut down any building vents to prevent the spread of vapors through the building but open any exterior windows. Cover the area with plastic. Call a hazardous waste disposal company to clean and remove contaminated items. Waste management companies can routinely dispose of clinical waste and can also provide emergency response and remediation services.

Mercury products can have negative effects on human health if not handled properly, but they are used in equipment and drugs in medical practice. This makes expert waste management important for every doctor or medical facility.