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Mercury switch disposal in Maine

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Ray_Frechette
Ray_Frechette Member Posts: 27
edited March 2016 in THE MAIN WALL
I just walled in the original coal boiler installed in my basement in 1947. Big massive hulking thing.

Before I walled it off I removed the old Honeywell aquastats... By golly they used big g mercury switches in 1947 in those.

Anyhow I would like to ov safely and responsibly dispose eb of the mercury switches. Maine has a. Bounty on old mercury thermostats, but they will not accept mercury hydrostats.. Go figure...the whole drive is to safely remove mercury TV from houses, and these things each contain about as much mercury as. 4-5 thermostats...

Anyhow. Does anyone know how I can safely, legally, responsibly dispose of this risk at a reasonable cost?

Comments

  • kcopp
    kcopp Member Posts: 4,448
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    Any plumbing supplyhouse should take them.
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,481
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    It's a shame to see those go to scrap, they will probably last forever.

    I have a couple of mercury contactors that were used for 40 years and still work beautifully, they were the original bounce free relay. We used them to test power supplies for dynamic loading

    Bob
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • lchmb
    lchmb Member Posts: 2,997
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    Believe FW Webb takes them...
  • MikeSpeed6030
    MikeSpeed6030 Member Posts: 69
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    My 1958 high-school chemistry teacher would have been happy to take that mercury off your hands. Used for various science projects, and kids coated their fingers in mercury and rolled around balls of mercury on their lab tables. That high school still stands, and perhaps should be demolished by a hazmat team?
    kcopp
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,923
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    My 1958 high-school chemistry teacher would have been happy to take that mercury off your hands. Used for various science projects, and kids coated their fingers in mercury and rolled around balls of mercury on their lab tables. That high school still stands, and perhaps should be demolished by a hazmat team?


    Yes,
    And people used to play with lead too, and we used it in our gasoline and paint until we found out we were seriously poisoning our people. Actually, the oil companies didn't care, but the right thing was done in the end luckily after a lot of fighting.

    Madame Curie and Pierre Curie, two extremely smart people handled a lot of radioactive substances too because they didn't realize it was dangerous. That doesn't mean it's ok to do now that we know different.

    Point being, mercury isn't a good thing to handle either regardless of what your chemistry teacher allowed students to do in 1958. Mr Wizard also had a huge pot of it on his show in the 1950s.


    That said, IMO those switches are harmless, just don't break them.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Leon82
    Leon82 Member Posts: 684
    edited March 2016
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    My 5th grade teacher had a jar of mercury in her desk. We all touched it to feel it and all the oxidation ended up on our fingers.
  • cgdelzell
    cgdelzell Member Posts: 22
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    the state epa will probably pick them up, NO QUESTIONS ASKED, just to keep it out of the waste stream. that's how it works in Ohio.
  • Ray_Frechette
    Ray_Frechette Member Posts: 27
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    I am aware that the mercury is harmless as long as it is encased in b the glass vials. And glass is not likely to degrade in my lifetime nor my childrens. However Murphy always lurks around. Far better to have them somewhere else where the mercury can be safely recovered and handled than in my basement as a potential liability.

    I eliminated all of my Honeywell round thermostats with mercury switches years ago for the same reason as well as mercury thermoeters...

    Having said that I must admit I played with liquid mercury as a kid in school and always found it fascinating. It was fascinating to bring small on balls of it t together to grow them in to a bigger ball.

    One of the most interesting uses for eb mercury I have heard of was for use in Lighthouses in the 1800's It was used to float metal hitters used to rotate around the oil lamp to cause the light to "FLASH". The mercury would allow the metal cage to float on top of the mercury and rotate with very little friction.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,657
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    Just for the sake of a little confusion here... metallic mercury is very poorly absorbed by the body, and thus is not, itself harmful. The vapour form, however, which appears if you heat the mercury, is readily absorbed through the lungs, and is a neurotoxin (you may have heard the term "mad as a hatter" -- they use heated mercury in the felting process). There is also an organic compound of mercury -- methyl mercury -- which is formed under many conditions and is very easily absorbed by the body. It's the one that causes folks to be upset by mercury in fish, for instance, since it accumulates in fats and oils in the fish, such as salmon and swordfish. Once the mercury is absorbed -- vapour or methyl (or most other mercury compounds, but not the metal) it is a neurotoxin and to be avoided.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Ray_Frechette
    Ray_Frechette Member Posts: 27
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    If you have a metallic mercury spill in a building you own, it is very expensive to have it cleaned.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,657
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    If you have a metallic mercury spill in a building you own, it is very expensive to have it cleaned.

    I didn't say it wasn't. Nor that it shouldn't be cleaned up -- it should. Just trying to comment on the various degrees of danger, and why.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Ray_Frechette
    Ray_Frechette Member Posts: 27
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    F.W.Webb took my hydrostats today. At first they hesitated saying the program was only for thermostats. I replied they have Honeywell on the side and a bike tall metal strip that thermostatically activates a mercury switch jn to control a burner motor for a boiler. They looked at them and said OK.
  • Ray_Frechette
    Ray_Frechette Member Posts: 27
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    Stupid tablet spell correct.. bimetalic , not bike tall metal!
    kcopp