Three Strikes, and
OUTLOOK ON LAB SAFETY
Mounting global pressure has forced mercury out of modern laboratories, with
regulations going into effect in October.
Galileo invented the original iquid in glass thermome- ters way back in 1603, and
Daniel Fahrenheit filled it with mercury in 1714. The glass thermometer is a real survivor and continues
to provide simple and accurate
means of measuring temperature.
As a result, Mercury (Hg) can
still be found in many laboratories, mostly in thermometers and
barometers, but its unique response
to temperature means that it can
also be present in other traditional
scientific measuring devices.
The chemical symbol Hg originates from Mercury’s Greek name—
silver. Because of its mobility, the
element is also known as “
quicksilver,” after the fastest-moving planet
in the solar system. Evidence of
its use has been found in antiquity dating back more than 3,500
But mercury is a very toxic
element. At room temperature,
exposed elemental mercury can
evaporate to become an invisible,
odorless toxic vapor. It can enter
the human body through an open
wound or by inhalation or injestion.
It can cause damage to nerves, the