Symptoms of mercury poisoning from a thermometer
Mercury refers to heavy metals. Its compounds in the form of salts and oxides are used in production, it is part of some paints and disinfectants. Moreover, the salts of this metal are more toxic than oxides.
Homes with mercury can be encountered if damaged thermometers, energy-saving light bulbs. From one crashed light bulb, metal vapor poisoning is unlikely. If the bulbs are damaged periodically, then chronic poisoning is quite possible to earn. At school, physics and chemistry lessons carry out reactions with mercury, so there are also cases of poisoning when safety precautions are violated when working with chemicals.
Mercury inlet paths
Mercury vapor poisoning can occur through the skin. In this case, intoxication develops slowly.
A more dangerous situation arises when metal particles get on mucous membranes or when it is swallowed. In this case, the liver suffers a toxic shock.
The most severe variant of poisoning occurs after inhalation of vapors or directly when released into the blood, since the liver practically does not participate in their neutralization.
Toxic dose of mercury
Most often the person is in contact with mercury when breaking a thermometer. Is it possible to get poisoned when the thermometer broke?
“The thermometer contains about two grams of mercury. Half of this dose in the human body is fatal.
Much depends on the age, sex, body weight of a person who has been in contact with a dangerous poison. Also important is the size of the room in which the release of mercury occurred.
These factors affect the severity of poisoning. The likelihood of mercury poisoning from a thermometer, if not taken, is close to 100%, since its average toxic dose is only 0.4 mg.
What to do if the thermometer broke? This will be discussed below.
Symptoms of mercury vapor poisoning
Poisoning can be acute, for example, by inhalation of vapor, subacutely and chronically, when a small amount of mercury enters the body, but for a long time.
The acute course is rare and, possibly, in a production accident where mercury is used, and in other similar cases. Often there is a chronic mercury poisoning from a thermometer, whose symptoms develop gradually.
Common symptoms of mercury vapor poisoning are:
- The nervous system is characterized by the appearance of asthenic syndrome (fatigue, weakness, headache, irritability, drowsiness, memory loss). Characterized by mercurial tremor (trembling) of the fingers, tongue, and sometimes the whole body, possibly the development of seizures. In addition, there is an increase in body temperature, blood pressure may decrease, increased sweating appears. In case of acute poisoning, inhibition is possible, followed by loss of consciousness and the development of coma.
- The digestive system suffers greatly. There is nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, metallic taste in the mouth. As a result of damage to the mucous membrane of mercury, gingivitis, stomatitis develops, which is manifested by pain, bleeding of the gums, increased salivation. With the appearance of ulcers in the esophagus, stomach, intestines, pain in the abdomen, possibly the development of bleeding. The specific symptoms of mercury poisoning from a thermometer will be: the appearance of a bright red color of the gums, then after some time they appear dark plaque.
- Signs of mercury poisoning with a broken thermometer appear on the part of the respiratory system. Characterized by the development of acute specific non-infectious bronchitis, pneumonia. With significant damage to the airways, hemoptysis may develop. In severe poisoning, pulmonary edema is not excluded.
- How does mercury poisoning manifest in chronic intoxication? This metal can accumulate in the parenchymal organs (liver and kidneys). Therefore, the symptoms of renal and hepatic insufficiency are often with prolonged exposure to poison. In this case, their gradual development is characteristic. In acute poisoning there is a high risk of acute renal and hepatic failure, which is a direct threat to life.
It is important to understand that in each case the set of symptoms is individual and depends on many factors. The classic manifestations of poisoning are one thing, and cases in practice are quite another.
How to determine mercury poisoning? Symptoms are mostly non-specific and occur in case of poisoning with other heavy metals, as well as in inflammatory diseases of various organs, which also suffer from intoxication with mercury. Clear evidence is given by a blood test for the concentration of a toxic substance, which is found in cases of poisoning of 180 µg / l and above.
Symptoms of mercury poisoning during pregnancy
Mercury poisoning during pregnancy is a rare but common phenomenon.
Symptoms will be the same as in non-pregnant women. Danger of intoxication with the threat of fetal death.
What to do in case of mercury poisoning
- If it is known that mercury has become the cause of intoxication, it is necessary to go to fresh air or otherwise move away from the source of poisoning.
- First aid for mercury poisoning begins with washing the mucous membranes of the eyes, mouth, nose and exposed skin with running water or a weak solution of potassium permanganate in the absence of respiratory and cardiovascular activity. If there are any, then at first, as far as possible, life-threatening conditions can be eliminated by conducting cardiopulmonary resuscitation, stopping or at least slowing the bleeding and so on.
- Washing the stomach with potassium permanganate dissolved in cold water only through a probe. Thus, it is possible to reduce the cauterizing effect of mercury. Washing is done several times a day. After the procedure, additional sorbents are prescribed 4 times a day.
- The introduction of the antidote "Unithiol" intravenous drip.
- In the future, conduct the introduction of solutions and diuretics to flush out the poison from the blood, as well as "Unithiol" intramuscularly. Hemodialysis is also used for this purpose, if necessary.
- Symptomatic treatment in the development of ulcerative lesions of various organs.
What to do if the thermometer broke
Compliance with safety regulations when working with mercury at work, as well as regular medical examinations for the timely detection of heavy metal intoxication reduces the risk of getting sick. At home, preventive measures are to replace all mercury thermometers with electronic ones and be more careful with energy-saving lamps.
What to do if the thermometer broke?
- Treat it responsibly and without panic.
- Get everyone out of the room.
- Close the door and open the windows.
- Children under 18 years old, pregnant women and people with serious chronic diseases should not collect mercury.
- It is necessary to isolate mercury in rubber gloves in a sealed glass dish. To protect yourself from inhalation of toxic fumes, wear a cotton-gauze or medical mask. On the feet should be shoe covers.
- To collect mercury with sheets of paper and with the help of a plaster - pasting small balls with the sticky surface of the tape.
- All that was in contact with mercury was placed in a plastic bag.
- Call the Ministry of Emergency Situations or ask them for a number, where to turn for cleaning the room and recycling the collected metal.
Acute poisoning of mild severity has the most favorable outcome. The greatest damage to organs occurs with prolonged intoxication. In this case, the consequences of mercury poisoning from a thermometer will be the formation of severe chronic diseases of the affected organs, not to mention fatal outcome. Timely recourse to medical care will reduce these effects to a minimum.