Linda Coscarelli at Bixby Medical Center in Adrian MI asks about disposal of
mercury containing fixative such as B-4, and Eric Kellar (U of Pittssburgh)
responds by citing the Dapsons' recommendation that you precipitate the
mercury with an alkali.
Further treatment with sodium sulfide yields black, extremely insoluble and
inert mercuric sulfide, which one could store a great quantity of before
needing to dispose of it. You have to know enough high school chemistry to
calculate how much sodium sulfide you need. How hazardous to handle is sodium
sulfide? Because of the toxicity and bad smell of hydrogen sulfide, I
wouldn't want to handle it without a hood, a facility not available to
histologists in most small labs. Do the rest of you think this procedure is
I've found an odd complication of keeping a bottle of mercury waste: people
who break mercury thermometers want to put the mercury, the glass, and the
clean up materials in my mercury waste, greatly increasing its volume.
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