Why mercury is recycled?

Mercury can be recycled

In order to obtain mercury from the dust, it is necessary to heat it to a predefined temperature for a considerable period of time (up to 24 hours). Balcan’s lamp recycling center uses a specialist company (which treats all types of mercury waste) to carry out this operation, although we have been advised that, for every approximately 1,000 kg of phosphor powder with mercury residue, only 0.5 kg of mercury is obtained.

Balcan believes that the additional recycling required to obtain mercury only from the phosphor dust collected during the lamp recycling process is more harmful to the environment, as well as being uneconomical. However, if the system can be used with different types of mercury waste, the costs incurred could be artificially offset by the waste stream, which is easier to recycle and has higher contamination rates.

Where to dispose of mercury

In 2009, the European Union banned the manufacture and marketing of devices containing this substance by Directive 2007/51/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 September 2007. Mercury is a chemical element that poses a serious problem for the environment when it is converted into waste. It is a substance that remains in ecosystems for generations and pollutes water.

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Despite this ban, the thermometers were not thrown away, as they are only dangerous after becoming waste. Therefore, it is common to find one of these at our grandmothers’ homes, they may be known as the “lifetime” thermometers.

If a thermometer of this type breaks, we must be careful not to inhale the mercury, so we will have to open the windows and ventilate the room where it has broken. After the breakage, we must avoid touching it with our hands, so we must use gloves for its manipulation.

Collect the mercury with a paper, adhesive tape or a syringe, without spreading the particles and avoiding that they slip into a crack. Keep this material in a plastic jar identifying its content, do not use breakable bottles.

Mercury waste

Given the doubts and the administrative vacuum that exists, citizens tend to leave mercury in inappropriate places with the contamination that this entails and the danger it could pose to recycling plant operators.

The enigma of where to take this waste is close to being solved. Sources of the Zaragoza consistory confirmed to this newspaper that, a few weeks ago, a request was made to the Aragonese Institute of Environmental Management (Inaga) to initiate the procedure to allow the mercury to be deposited in the mobile clean points. The list can be consulted on the city council’s web page.

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Mercury thermometers have not been marketed since 2009, but there are many people at home who have them to measure fever. If one of them breaks, the priority is not to inhale it and open the windows if you are in a closed place. Nor should it be touched, although Martín Resano, professor and researcher at the Department of Analytical Chemistry of the University of Zaragoza, pointed out that “it absolutely does not pass” through contact with the skin. “Another thing is that it evaporates, especially in this heat. In this case it is very dangerous and neurotoxic, affecting the brain and nervous system,” he said.

What happens if I touch mercury

Question 6 MercuryPrevious QuestionLevel 3 QuestionsNext Question6. What can be done to reduce mercury emissions?6.1 What are possible options for controlling mercury emissions?

The source document used in this Digest states:As discussed in Chapter 6, the sources of mercury releases to the biosphere can be grouped into four main categories. Two of these categories (releases due to natural mobilization of mercury and remobilization of anthropogenic mercury formerly deposited in soils, sediments and water bodies) are not fully understood and are largely beyond human control.

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The source document used in this Digest states: Reducing the consumption of raw materials and products that generate mercury releases is a preventive measure that applies primarily to mercury-based products and processes, but can also result from increased efficiency in the use of raw materials or fuels for energy generation. This group of measures could involve choosing another feedstock, such as natural gas for power generation instead of coal, or perhaps using a type of coal with a certain characteristic (e.g., more chlorine) since mercury emissions from the combustion of this type of coal could be more easily controlled than those of other types.