Arizona mercury puddle raises IAQ concerns

A recent act of apparent vandalism at a vacant home in El Mirage, Ariz., drew attention to the very real dangers of mercury pollution.

A real estate agent and a potential homebuyer discovered nearly a pound of liquid mercury on the pavement outside the house during a viewing of the unoccupied house. They backed away from the toxic puddle and called 911.

Mercury is highly toxic. Mercury vapors or organic mercury can cause personality changes, tremors, vision problems, deafness, and other symptoms.

Very small amounts, such as just a few drops from a broken thermometer or other source, can raise air concentrations of mercury to hazardous levels. Because the droplets are difficult to detect on furniture, carpet, floors, walls, etc., mercury can threaten the health of building occupants for months or years.

Mercury was often an ingredient in the paint in homes painted before 1991, when its use in house paints was banned. Mercury is also present in amalgam dental fillings, and dentists and their assistants are at risk of exposure to mercury in working with dental fillings.IQAir manufactures a series of stand-alone air purifiers (seepicture at right) just for use in dentists’ offices.

Mercury exposure due tothermometer breakages is a significant indoor air quality issue.1 In one case, three children suffered mercury poisoning after a single thermometer broke on the carpet in the children’s bedroom but was not cleaned up. One of the children, a 33-month-old girl, was admitted to the hospital for anorexia, eczema and other symptoms.

TheU.S. Environmental Protection Agency is currently working on new standards for mercuryreleased from coal- and oil-fired generating plants.2

The companies in charge of the cleanup at the El Mirage house yesterday reported that cleanup efforts are complete, pending soil sample analysis.

Mercury in Dental Amalgams

The threat of mercury exposure can also be a concern for many dental practitioners, as mercury can be present during amalgam fillings.

To prevent both this and other pollutants like bacteria and infection, consider looking into a high-performance air purification system like the IQAir Dental Series, along with the FlexVac attachment.

Studies have shown that the positioning of air cleaners in dental clinics are of major significance for controlling aerosol particle dispersion in dental clinics.3 The FlexVac is an extraoral suction and infection control device that can control potential air quality issues at the source. The extendable hose of the FlexVac ensures the best coverage for filtering pollutants from any angle.

Mercury Pollution Both Indoors and Outdoors

Mercury pollution is no joke. And the worst part is that mercury pollution is not limited to outdoor air - it can also affect indoor environments.

While the puddles of mercury in El Mirage are of concern, exposure from them is out of the control of most individuals. You can, however, control the quality of air in your work or home environment.

Taking precautions like investing in air filtration units are a big step in making sure you know what is in the air you’re breathing.

The number one air cleaning solution for your home.

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