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Mercury silence

Posted By: midwestfire
Date: Saturday, 17 April 2010, at 2:39 p.m.

I just joined a sign company that has a neon shop with no ventilation. They often repair existing mercury-argon tubes.

My training was that this is a very bad idea, because of the mercury vapor put into the air -- particularly with no ventilation for the shop.

After searching on the web and finding nothing other than the OSHA PEL regulations, I am left wondering if this is something that is just not talked about in the industry, or if it is such a blatant danger that it's common sense and not mentioned, just as you wouldn't have to mention the dangers of playing in traffic or drinking drain cleaner.

I'd like to be safe, but don't want to confront anyone without more information. How does one get the proper testing done to see if it is safe? Can this be done privately, DIY, or does OSHA have to come in? Also, the shop floor looks like it hasn't been swept in years. Does mercury vapor condense onto the floor? Is there possibly mercury in the dust as well?

They seem to take care in the handling of the mercury, so apparently there is some concern about it. But the boss says that he hasn't ever been poisoned in 25 years, has his son pump in the same shop, but admits that he knows one person that was poisoned years ago. So I'm not clear on his concerns about the safety in the shop.

What options would you say I have to proceed on this? Thanks.

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