Home>Industry Update>Company News>Mercury detection in just 3 seconds

Mercury detection in just 3 seconds

13 July 2022

THE ION Science mercury vapour Indicator (MVI) can detect continuously mercury and Shawcity says that unlike other technologies, does not saturate or rely on waiting for gold film to regenerate.

Ergonomically designed for simple, one-handed operation the MVI is the ideal survey unit for rapid and reliable mercury detection.

Before it was realised that mercury and its compounds are extremely toxic, the chemical was widely used in a host of industrial and domestic products and processes – from batteries and auto switches to CRTs and dishwashers, to HVAC equipment and lamps of all types. For many years it was an important additive in paints, cosmetics, pesticides and rubber flooring.

Even today when its toxic properties are much better understood, it remains an important chemical in a host of manufacturing processes, including the production of chlorine, cement, caustic soda and sulphuric acid, and it is used or emitted in significant quantities in the likes of power generation and dental care.

Mercury is also commonly found in thermometers, barometers, mercury switches, electrical relays, fluorescent lighting and even lighthouses.

Mercury is introduced into the environment in many ways. It can be emitted into the air naturally from volcanoes, the weathering of rocks, forest fires and soils. It is also released into the air from the burning of fossil fuels and medical or general waste. Natural processes such as the evaporation of ocean water can also release mercury into the environment.

Human activity is the main cause of mercury releases, particularly the use of coal-fired power stations, residential coal burning for heating and cooking, industrial processes, waste incinerators and it can also enter the soil from fertilizers, fungicides and from solid waste i.e. thermometers, light bulbs or electrical switches.

Mercury persists in the environment for long periods of time by cycling back and forth between the air and soil, all the while changing chemical forms. Atmospheric lifetimes of inorganic elemental mercury are estimated to be up to two years, while organic methylmercury may stay in the soil for decades. Mercury is never removed from the environment, it is just moved to other locations and eventually buried under soils and sediments.

The presence of mercury in the environment does not always lead to exposure. For it to cause any adverse health effects, a person must come into contact with it. Exposure to mercury is by breathing or ingesting it.

Following exposure to any chemical, the adverse health effects that may be encountered depend on several factors including the amount to which you are exposed to, the way you are exposed and the duration of exposure.

Guidance and information on workplace exposure limits can be found in the HSE EH40 Regulations. Exposure to excessive levels of mercury can permanently damage or fatally injure the brain and kidneys. Elemental mercury can also be absorbed through the skin and cause allergic reactions.

Occupational exposure to mercury can occur in several workplaces that use mercury, such as in factories making electrical equipment or thermometers, chemical processing plants and dental practices. Safe levels are enforced to protect employees who may be exposed to mercury at work.

The MVI provides continuous readings and offers two detection ranges of 0.1-200μg/m3 and 1.0-1999μg/m3. These two ranges provide critical coverage for the EU-OSHA PEL at 100 ug/m3 and the IDLH at 1,000 ug/m3.

A high-performance pump ensures fast indication and recovery and the instrument’s audible alarm and large digital display clearly indicate the levels of mercury present. With ultimate portability, excellent battery life and fast recharging, fewer analysers are needed on-site which reduces the cost of monitoring. 

The MVI is available to hire or buy from Shawcity. For more information or to request a free demonstration, contact info@shawcity.co.uk or call 01367 899419.