Mercury in the house causes panic? “Harmful, but not always dangerous”

A large amount of metal was found in the staircase of an apartment in Amsterdam East last night, after which nine homes were evacuated. Police said today that it may have been the contents of a pressure gauge, but because so many people had walked over it, objects were scattered all over the stairwell. “This made it seem like it was too much.”

Mercury is a metal that liquefies at room temperature. This makes cleaning difficult. “It jumps all over the place and is hard to grasp. You need special pliers for that,” Jerome Simmons, a doctoral student in chemistry at Eindhoven University of Technology, tells EditieNL. “If you touch it, it evaporates and therefore is harmful.” These fumes cause damage to the kidneys, brain, and nervous system. “Once it’s in your body, it can’t get out.”

Impact on the brain

Mercury is rarely used nowadays, as it is very harmful to health and harmful to nature. “In the Middle Ages it was still used as a miracle cure, and then it was ingested,” Simmons says. “That didn’t end well, of course, because it’s very toxic.”

What does mercury contain?

Devices containing mercury may not be sold, but it can still be found in old thermometers, barometers, industrial watches, and sphygmomanometers. Energy-saving lamps and fluorescent lamps also contain mercury, often in powder form. These are small amounts so they are not dangerous. If the lamp breaks, it will not hurt if you clean it carefully.

Source: GGD Living Environment

In the past, things often went wrong with people who worked in metal. Toxicologist Jacob de Boer of the Free University says: “The hat-makers in England who used mercury were slowly going crazy. Lighthouse keepers also worked with mercury, which was used to light the main lights.” “It has an effect on the brain and on your ability to think if you work with mercury every day.”

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You don’t have to worry right away if you still have something that contains mercury in your home. “As long as it’s sitting there at room temperature, it’s not dangerous. And then you can just walk next to it,” says de Boer. The danger lies mainly in the heat. “Then the fumes go off.”

Megan Vasquez

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