ABC of Safety in the Biological Sciences - Mercuric Chloride

 

ABC of Safety in the Biological Sciences

 


 

MERCURIC CHLORIDE (HgCl2)

SYNONYMS
Mercuric bichloride.
GENERAL PRECAUTIONS
Use a fume hood.
Avoid skin and eye contact.
Avoid inhalation of the vapour.
Avoid ingestion.
Keep away from heat.
Keep away from oxidising agents.
Keep away from organic material.
Keep the container tightly sealed.
Wash hands thoroughly after handling.
CHARACTERISTICS
Heavy white crystals or crystalline powder.
HEALTH HAZARD DATA
Mercuric chloride is very toxic by ingestion or inhalation. It may be absorbed through the skin in concentrations sufficient to cause toxicity. It is also corrosive. Effects of exposure are stomatitis, gastroenteritis, polyuria, membranous colitis and dysentery. It attacks the central nervous system, kidneys, stomach, liver, spleen, and bone structure.
TREATMENTS
Skin ­ immediately remove contaminated clothing and wash the affected area with soap or mild detergent and large amounts of water until all evidence of the chemical has been removed (approximately 15 minutes). Seek medical advice. Wash contaminated clothing before re­use.
Eyes ­ immediately wash the affected eye with large amounts of water until all evidence of the chemical has been removed (approximately 15 minutes). If irritation or pain persist seek immediate medical attention.
Inhalation ­ remove from the area of exposure to fresh air. If breathing has ceased apply artificial respiration. Keep warm and allow to rest. Seek immediate medical attention.
Ingestion ­ wash out the mouth thoroughly with water and give egg whites, milk or activated charcoal. Induce vomiting by touching a finger to the back of the throat. Seek immediate medical advice.
INCOMPATIBILITY
Heating produces toxic fumes of chlorine. Mercuric chloride is incompatible with organic material and oxidising agents.
STORAGE
Store in a tightly closed container in a cool, dry atmosphere.
HANDLING
Use a fume hood to minimise exposure to this substance. Wear protective clothing. A long sleeved laboratory coat or gown, rubber gloves, safety goggles and a face mask as a minimum standard.
DISPOSAL
CAUTION:
The toxicity of mercury is such that the element and its compounds should not be allowed to contaminate air or water.
WEAR:
Rubber gloves, laboratory coat and self contained breathing apparatus.
SPILLS AND METAL:
Collect all droplets and pools immediately using a suction pump and an aspirator bottle, with a long capillary tube. Cover fine droplets in non accessible cracks, with calcium polysulphide and excess sulphur. Combine all contaminated mercury in a tightly stoppered bottle. Hold it for purification or sale.
PACKAGE LOTS:
Compounds: dissolve all water soluble contaminated compounds. Convert other contaminated compounds to the soluble nitrates. Adjust the acidity and precipitate as mercuric sulphide. Wash and dry the precipitate.
ENVIRONMENT:

 


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