Sustainable Hospitals
Mercury Reduction
Best Management Practices for
Mercury-containing Products in the Hospital

Mercury may be present in a hospital's sewer pipes, sumps and sink traps from the past use of mercury. The mercury may have entered the pipes when items were broken, discarded or spilled in sinks. Mercury in plumbing can settle at a low point such as a sump or sink trap and remain in the plumbing of a hospital for many years. Often the slow dissolution of the mercury in a pipe, sump or sink trap is enough to cause violations of wastewater discharge standards even after best management practices for mercury have been introduced in the hospital.
Whenever sewer pipes, sumps or sink traps are to be moved or cleaned, the plumber must be warned about the potential of finding mercury in the sludge. The sludge must be handled and disposed as hazardous waste unless it is demonstrated, through the Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP) or verifiable user knowledge, that it is not hazardous. Procedures for cleaning traps and pipes have been developed by the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority/Medical, Academic and Scientific Community Organization Mercury Work Group.
Hospitals have reported success in lowering their wastewater levels after cleaning out their plumbing. After conducting such a cleaning program, a hospital must follow the recommendations in this chapter in order to avoid reintroducing mercury into the plumbing system.
Management Practices

Fever Thermometers
Gastrointestinal Tubes
Dental Amalgam and Mercury
Laboratory Chemicals
Pharmaceutical Products
Cleaners and Degreasers
Electrical Equipment
Thermostat Probes in Gas Appliances
Industrial Thermometers
Pressure Gauges
Storage Areas
Hospital Employee Health and Safety
Related Topics:
Case Studies
Why is mercury a problem?
How to establish mercury pollution prevention in your hospital.

Best Management Practices for Mercury-containing Products in the Hospital
Mercury Reduction
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