Working With Mercury in Industry (Revised. See: 74-120)

DHHS (NIOSH) Publication Number 73-11006

This pamphlet provided information on working with mercury (7439976), including industrial uses, effects of exposure to mercury, methods for controlling mercury exposure, reporting symptoms of mercury exposure, management responsibilities, and worker responsibilities. Mercury and its compounds have been used in medicine, dentistry, the chemical industry, and in the manufacturing of paint, paper, pesticides, and fungicides. The most common cause of mercury poisoning occurring on the job was through the inhalation of mercury vapors. Mercury vaporized at room temperature; when spilled, mercury broke into tiny globules which lodged themselves in cracks and penetrated porous surfaces, increasing the amount vaporized into the air. Most industrial poisoning cases resulted from chronic exposures and were characterized by tremor or shaking of the body and emotional disturbances. Several body functions and organs could be affected in the advanced stages including the kidney, liver, brain, heart and lung. For effective control of mercury at the workplace an efficient ventilation system was necessary. Work processes involving the use of mercury should be enclosed and isolated from the other work areas. Respirators may be necessary for brief periods. Air quality should be continually monitored, physical examinations should be offered periodically to employees, and good housekeeping procedures should be in place at the work site.