cleaning keyboards in the dishwasher

Bjørn Vermo bv at
Wed Jan 11 05:58:13 CST 2006

On Tue, 10 Jan 2006 08:58:38 +0100, Chuck Guzis <cclist at> wrote:

> On 1/10/2006 at 1:22 AM C Fernandez wrote:
>> \
>> Our local city high school was closed for about 3 days while a Hazmat
>> team cleaned up a dropped vile of mercury.
>> Some kid found it and brought it to school, then dropped it by accident!
> I'm not sure if that
>> was a massive over reaction, or not.  Is mercury really that much of a
> hazzard?
> I don't know--it's not the metallic mercury that's terribly reactive, but
> vapors aren't awfully safe.  There are safe ways to clean up the metallic
> mercury--binding to a more active metal is one.   Still, it's worthwhile
> considering that calomel (mercurous chloride) was used since the 1600's  
> as
> as a purgative and treatment for yellow fever in humans.  Mercuric  
> chloride
> (or corrisive sublimate) was long used as an antiseptic.  Before arsenic
> was used as a treatment for syphilis, mercury was used.

Back when I studied chemistry, mercury was considered harmful but not very  
dangerous. Then, new biology research proved it to be one of the most  
hazardous metals because it takse very small amounts of organic mercury  
compounds to cause permanent damage. I think much of that resarch started  
after the Minemoto disaster in Japan.

Later research has indicated that most of the bad effects attributed to  
syphilis 100+ years ago were actually caused by the treatment. The visible  
lesions improved, but the brain was harmed. The expression "mad as a  
hatter" comes from the fact that mercury was used by hatters, and they had  
a tendency to ende up as anything from eccentic or dimwitted to raving  

The human body is able to get rid of a certain amount of organic mercury  
without lasting damage, but apparently a number of modern pollutants are  
using the same quota.

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