Mercury is a metal that is liquid at room temperatures and vaporizes at low temperatures. Mercury has a number of industrial uses. It is also found in thermostats, thermometers and inside fluorescent light tubes.
Mercury has a significant toxic effect on the central nervous system and can cause disease and even death. Mercury becomes a hazard when it is released into the environment. Significant concentrations of mercury can be present at room temperature because it vaporizes at low temperatures. This can occur when mercury thermometers or thermostat bulbs are broken or when fluorescent light tubes are broken.
WorkSafeBC has designated mercury as an ALARA substance. This means that exposures to this material must be kept “as low as reasonably achievable”. Section 5.54 of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation states that employers are required to develop and implement an exposure control plan when workers may be exposed to airborne concentrations of mercury greater than 50% of the exposure limit.
All mercury waste requires disposal in accordance with current Ministry of Environment requirements.