Mercury Exposure in the Workplace

Posted By Katz, Leidman, Freund & Herman || 15-May-2019

Metallic mercury is extremely toxic. As a potent neurotoxin, even very small amounts can damage a worker’s health. At room temperature, mercury is liquid and it evaporates easily. What does this mean for workers? It means they can be exposed to mercury by having skin contact or breathing mercury vapors in the air. But that’s not all.

Workers can also be exposed if they use instruments or equipment that contains mercury and they break, releasing dust, liquid, or vapors containing metallic mercury.

Are you Exposed to Mercury at Work?

Are you being exposed to mercury at work? You may be if you work at a dental office, a healthcare facility, a laboratory, a hardware store, a landfill, a lighting equipment manufacturer, a drinking water or wastewater treatment plant, a fluorescent bulb recycler, or a recycling facility that handles or recycled fluorescent bulbs.

There are various instruments and equipment that contain mercury and if they break, they can release mercury, which can evaporate in the air. Some examples include some types of plumbing equipment, some types of HVAC equipment, fluorescent light bulbs, thermostat switches, blood pressure gauges, and various medical instruments.

Health Problems Caused By Mercury

People are mainly exposed to mercury by inhaling its vapors. This can occur when metallic mercury vapors or dust are released in the air in the course of employment. This can happen when fluorescent lightbulbs are crushed or when a mercury-containing instrument is broken and the worker inhales the vapors.

Mercury can cause the following health problems:

  • Cancer
  • Reproductive problems
  • Kidney damage
  • Nervous system damage

If you’re in the dental field or fluorescent bulb recycling, you’re especially at risk. Dentists, dental assistants, and dental hygienists, for example, can be exposed to mercury when grinding, repairing, handling, or placing amalgam fillings in patients. Additionally, if mercury is not properly removed, it can stay in carpets and continue poisoning the air.

Next: How to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim in NY

We are only scratching the surface in regard to mercury exposure and how it can be extremely toxic for workers. If you’re concerned that you’re suffering from an occupational disease due to mercury exposure, contact our firm at once to request a free case evaluation with a Queens workers’ compensation attorney.