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imaluma
April 13th, 2008, 11:57 PM
Does anyone know about antique mirrors being manufactured with mercury, how to identify and handle them?

deaconsbench
April 14th, 2008, 05:29 AM
Does anyone know about antique mirrors being manufactured with mercury, how to identify and handle them?

I 'Googled' your thread title and found several articles. Mercury is some bad stuff, as in hazardous to your health and the environment.

EllenAtHowards
April 14th, 2008, 07:12 AM
When we were kids, we would roll mercury back and forth between our hands in science class. Now they evacuate the whole school and keep it closed for a week while they decontaminate.

Were we so badly affected? Can we now expect the children of today to be ever so much more brilliant because they were never exposed?

I know that mecury can cause nerve damage, but I think we need not be TOO hysterical when dealing with it.

I would be more concerned about the oil on your hands leaving fingerprints on the silvering of a mirror. For that reason alone, I would not touch the back of an old mirror unless I KNEW it had been sealed (which they usually are...)

josephforthill
April 14th, 2008, 08:30 AM
My father kept a vial of it in his workshop, and would let us play with drops of mercury. That could probably explain a number of things. :)

When children (versus adults) are involved with hazardous materials, there is often greater likelihood of damage due to developing brains and bodies, particularly with lead poisoning. As with carcinogens, there is no "good" level, so we just do the best we can.

BILL WARD
April 14th, 2008, 08:49 AM
DON'T lick the back of old mirrors!---nasty habit!

Meghan MacMillan
April 14th, 2008, 10:39 AM
I think the upshot is that you might want to wear gloves when you handle it. I'm told that "antiqued" mirror being produced today uses some other thing*. I have no idea how to tell if what you have is "mercury glass" or isn't.

Since I've only done about a dozen jobs with it in the last 2 dozen years I don't worry too much about my exposure.

About 30 years ago I did drop a glass thermometer in the bathroom sink and played with those globules for a good long while. As far as I can tell I emerged unscathed. Who knows, maybe I would've been first in my class rather than 10th.

*Which is given as the reason it's so frightfully expensive which is, it turn, why my customers have typically abandoned that notion in favor of clear beveled mirror.

Fake Zorro
April 14th, 2008, 10:39 AM
DON'T lick the back of old mirrors!---nasty habit!

Bill you beat me to the punchline. Back in the 1800's a cure for a hangover was a shot glass full of mercury. I'll bet that cured it real fast.:vomit:

JRB
April 14th, 2008, 10:58 AM
I'm with Ellen, we played with the stuff, that, along with lead for making toy soldiers. We had a little machine that melted the lead and poured it into molds, pull the handle back and a toy soldier dropped out. The heating ducts throughout the house were wrapped in asbestos, another hazardous material we all fooled around with. We also helped our dads paint, with lead based paints.

I am sure some folks problems today can be traced back to childhood exposure to what used to be fairly common around most homes. I somehow believe that they are a very small percentage of our population. Try to remember, we have millions of government employees who have little to do during their day, it's either regulate us or bull5hit us.

The greatest generation, you know, the ones who won world war two for us, were all brought up exposed to everything I mentioned above, and a whole lot more if they were from the farm or ranch.

Millions are still alive, much to the consternation of their children and the trust fund they are so eagerly anticipating.

I understand that a lot of you are from the lowered basketball hoop generation and you take as absolute hard fact what little you were taught in schools. I do not think you have to be too concerned with handling an old mirror. Go ahead, lick the back, you'll survive.

John

prospero
April 14th, 2008, 11:09 AM
Back in the 1920's people would wear radioactive bracelets as a cure for arthritis. It was the latest scientific wonder cure. They would carry chunks of radioactive metal about (like Homer Simpson) thinking it was beneficial to health. There was even radioactive toothpaste for that glow-in-the dark smile. :D The craze eventually died out (along with most of the users :party:)

Still, anyone can be clever with the benefit of hindsight.:nuts:

As for mercury, it was often a feature of science classes when I was at school. Teachers favourite party trick. Doesn't seem to have had any ill effects. Undoubtedly it's a hazardous substance but to put things in proportion you are probably about 10000 times more likely to get flattened by a car than get mercury poisoning from an old mirror.

So that's a big relief all round.:)

Framar
April 14th, 2008, 11:28 AM
Gee, I'm so relieved to know that I am not the only one who used to play with mercury ("Quicksilver") as a child - I mean, how could I resist - it was so shiny.....and it stuck real nice to dimes and made them oh so shiny and bright!

Dave
April 14th, 2008, 11:45 AM
Ditto here ...I use to play with mercury and also melted lead to make soldiers with molds. In addition I grew up as a kid in my grandfathers frame shop with all the sprays and solvents used daily.

When I think of all the Christmas lights I strung by hand and never washed my hands afterwards to get off the lead...not to mention all the fresh fish I ate growing up and what toxins may have been ingested by them and passed on to me.

I think what has saved me from all these horrible things and preserved me to my fifty-three years of age is all the chemicals and preservatives put into our meats and processed foods and the insecticides sprayed on produce.

So ya' ...go ahead and lick the back of the mirror ...just don't caught kissing the front of it. People may wonder about that a little more.

Baer Charlton
April 14th, 2008, 12:08 PM
So back to answering your question [we'll let the mercury players prattle on in their make believe world for a while until the drool gets excessive...:D]

Mercury was floated across glass that had been micro etched with cyanide. The residual mercury left on a 24x30 mirror was probably less than what was in that thermometer on your back porch. On old glass man that made mirrors for me in Pasadena back in the 1970s told me that it was the cyanide gas that restricted him from still making mercury mirrors in Pasadena.

The residual is almost translucent. Then the asphaltem is applied which solidifies the color, and deepens the reflection to make it less "bright". If you lick the back of the mirror, it will taste like that patch of street corner that the kids have been working on. Kind of nasty pungent oily.

Although the Mercury in quantity will kill you, it's the children you produce that Mercury levels in the bloodstream are worrisome. Barbara Bush is the most famous example of very high Mercury poisoning during her fertile years.

The poisoning causes a great reduction of the development of the cerebral cortex and anything above. It's been known to be a leading cause of politicians.

We now return to the on going program. As we left before the children were crawling around the floor chasing Quicksilver. . . . . :D

deaconsbench
April 14th, 2008, 12:08 PM
The "I did it and survived - you can too!" bravado is quite entertaining, but doesn't answer the original question. A quote from one of the many articles states:

"Exposure to high levels of mercury can cause damage to the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs and immune system. Even the few ounces found in some antiques can be dangerous. Aptly nicknamed quicksilver, it's hard to clean up, and can become an inhalation hazard if it vaporizes.
Dr. Wanda Lizak Wells of the New York state Department of Health, co-author of the study, suggests getting professional help if even a few ounces spill from an old barometer.
And never use a vacuum.
"That is one of the worst things that people can do," she said. The mercury can be heated up by the vacuum motor and vaporize. That was the mistake Smith's clock cleaner made at her shop near the Catskill Mountains. The vacuum was discarded as hazardous waste."

Baer Charlton
April 14th, 2008, 12:21 PM
OK, I'll bite "Smith's clock cleaner . . .near the Catskill Mountains"?

deaconsbench
April 14th, 2008, 12:31 PM
OK, I'll bite "Smith's clock cleaner . . .near the Catskill Mountains"?

Just one of the many articles regarding mercury contamination. I left that part of this article in to show an additional concern with using a vacuum to "dispose" of mercury spillage.

Rick Granick
April 14th, 2008, 01:09 PM
That sounds like very good advice, Deac. Fortunately with a mirror you aren't dealing with molten or vaporized mercury. I would think that wearing gloves would be caution enough. And maybe if it's old and dusty, wear a mask like you would when sanding wood, just to be on the safe side.
:kaffeetrinker_2: Rick

(You might want to avoid listening to those old Quicksilver Messenger Service albums while you're working too.):icon11:

Pat Murphey
April 14th, 2008, 01:51 PM
Baer,

You can't resist another snotty ad hominem shot at W, can you?

And, folks don't worry about the unavailability of liquid mercury for our kids - we just inject them with it now as part of their innoculations.

Paul N
April 14th, 2008, 01:58 PM
It has Cyanide beside Mercury??

Just add Dioxin and you have the prefect toxic cocktail.

JRB
April 14th, 2008, 03:20 PM
Just to be safe, you should never accept a project in your shop that may contain old mirrors. Hazmat and the CDC should be notified immediately should one, somehow appear in your shop or home. Keep your children and pets at least 14' 3 1/2" from any old mirrors you may encounter.

Actually, it could be a terrorist plot to destroy America, sneaking old mirrors across our boarders. It would probably be prudent to notify Homeland Security and alert the news media should you come across one of these old, obviously dangerous mirrors.

John

Bob Doyle
April 14th, 2008, 04:12 PM
Baer,

You can't resist another snotty ad hominem shot at W, can you?


What did he say about GW? Babs and GHW had more than one child, he could have been refering to any of them, as well as saying that she was the most famous, not the only woman of her era to be affected by mercury during pregnancy.


ANYHOO, I would be more worried about the daily exposure to lead, on our wire, than the rare exposure to mercury from antique mirrors. (Wire spools have the CA prop 65 label, as do all wires for x-mas trees) I deal with a lot of wire, does anyone wear gloves?

Pat Murphey
April 14th, 2008, 04:20 PM
Yeah, Bob.

Bob Doyle
April 14th, 2008, 04:26 PM
Yeah, Bob.

Do you mean yes you wear gloves? For wire? What kind? I switched from standard braided wire to Super Strand because of the lead, yet both have lead.

Val
April 14th, 2008, 04:32 PM
I was so bummed when they changed Christmas tree icicles to aluminum instead of lead. Used to gather it all up before the tree went down, and rolled it up into little balls and then shellacked them shiny. Won a ton of marbles from the boys at recess! "Lead-ies", home-made marbles, and they counted, because everyone else made 'em, too!

And I can remember biting that thermometer a time or two, and swallowing the stuff, and a couple times, breaking one just to play with the "stuff inside". Who'da thought it? Not dead yet, but might be a whole lot smarter today, if I hadn't! Won't know, and who cares.

Oh yeah, and mud, and cardboard, and....-shudder- bacon and eggs.

PaulSF
April 14th, 2008, 05:03 PM
I believe that the acids in the glass portion of the mirror will neutralize any harmful effects of the mercury. You should be mindful of the UV filtering decaying over 2-3 years, however.

Bob Doyle
April 14th, 2008, 05:05 PM
Don't worry Paul, the plexi will be all yellow before the uv wears out. All plexi yellows, right?

PaulSF
April 14th, 2008, 05:08 PM
All the more reason not to lick yellow plexi!

JFeig
April 14th, 2008, 05:10 PM
With common sense handling of a glass mirrored with mercury and then sealed with paint is is any more dangerous than the filling material for our teeth still being used?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amalgam

Grey Owl
April 14th, 2008, 10:51 PM
When we were kids, we would roll mercury back and forth between our hands in science class......
Were we so badly affected? Can we now expect the children of today to be ever so much more brilliant because they were never exposed?
..)

I also played with mercury in science lab. Also coated quarters and carried them around.

Based on the other comments here I gather the effects of all of us that handled mercury as a kid, is we ended up in framing, I don't think that is all bad.

Framar
April 14th, 2008, 10:53 PM
I think we are all mad as matters.....

JRB
April 15th, 2008, 01:59 AM
I heard somewhere that glass is actually a liquid. Mercury is kinda heavy as I recall, shouldn't it sink to the bottom? How come it doesn't come out of the bottom of those glass thermometers? What about those old outdoor thermometers that were attached to a tin backing? If glass is a liquid, and mercury is heavier than glass, shouldn't it seep through the glass thermometer and turn the tin green or something, it being so dangerous and all?

John

timquinn
April 15th, 2008, 03:22 AM
I think the handling of old glass and mercury can lead to a condition called "Evergreen Slug Syndrome." I won't go into the symptoms but it does lead to lots of small cuts on the hands and a fascination with band aids and the acidic qualities of wood.

Hm . . .

JRB
April 15th, 2008, 12:16 PM
imaluma, your question was a valid one I am sure, and we, or at least some of us, have had a lot of fun with it. Even though there has been a whole lot of goofing off, I am sure you were able to get a feel of how everyone thinks about this subject.

Please do not personalize the lack of seriousness displayed on my part. Some among us took your question very seriously. This thread is a great example of why people love The Grumble, we can go any direction we want with any subject. Most of the time that is a lot of fun. Every now and then it can become hurtful. I do not believe that is the intentions of any of us.

Please accept my apologies if my wisecracking was offensive to you.

John

Val
April 15th, 2008, 01:59 PM
How do we know that the glass we're handling contains mercury? What are the signs? Until this thread, I never thought of that!!

Bob Doyle
April 15th, 2008, 02:08 PM
It expands and contracts with the temperature!
Put it under your tongue for a few seconds and it'll beep!
It has a slight salmony tuna kind of smell.
When you break it it breaks into little balls and rolls around the floor, ps don't vacuum it up!

Paul N
April 15th, 2008, 02:39 PM
If anybody thinks Mercury is harmless, ignore this post.

For those who want to know about Mercury's toxicity, Here's some info (Source: Wikipedia)

Historical uses: preserving wood, developing silvering (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silvering) mirrors (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirror), anti-fouling paints (discontinued in 1990), herbicides (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herbicide) (discontinued in 1995), handheld maze games, cleaning, and road levelling devices in cars.

....It can be inhaled and absorbed through the skin and mucous membranes

Acute exposure to mercury vapor has been shown to result in profound central nervous system effects, including psychotic reactions characterized by delirium, hallucinations, and suicidal tendency. Occupational exposure has resulted in broad-ranging functional disturbance, including erethism*, irritability, excitability, excessive shyness, and insomnia. With continuing exposure, a fine tremor develops and may escalate to violent muscular spasms. Tremor initially involves the hands and later spreads to the eyelids, lips, and tongue. Long-term, low-level exposure has been associated with more subtle symptoms of erethism, including fatigue, irritability, loss of memory, vivid dreams, and depression.

*Erethism or erethism mercurialis is a symptom complex of Mercury poisoning, presenting with excessive shyness, timidity and social phobia.

prospero
April 15th, 2008, 03:27 PM
Fair enough. But practically anything is harmful if taken in execess over a long period. Drink a bottle of whisky and you will probably not suffer lasting effects. Drink one every day and it will eventually kill you. :beer:

RParrish
April 15th, 2008, 03:38 PM
When I think of all the Christmas lights I strung by hand and never washed my hands afterwards to get off the lead...not to mention all the fresh fish I ate growing up and what toxins may have been ingested by them and passed on to me.

So ya' ...go ahead and lick the back of the mirror ...just don't caught kissing the front of it. People may wonder about that a little more.

Christmas lights still have that warning on them today.

20 years from now people will be appauled that we used plastic so much, food, bottled water, wrapping, ect....

Val
April 15th, 2008, 03:47 PM
How do we know that the glass we're handling contains mercury? What are the signs? Until this thread, I never thought of that!!
How do we know if the mirror contains mercury?

Paul N
April 15th, 2008, 04:04 PM
How do we know if the mirror contains mercury?

Not without elaborate testing techniques I bet. But one can have themselves tested for Mercury levels (hair test), and be prepared to be surprised.

Mercury is not only ingested from playing with it, by the way. Lots of ways to get your Mercury levels to be quite high. Regularly eating certain fish is one of them, besides drinking water in some areas. And it's no coincidence that danger levels are set at extremely low doses by the EPA, FDA or other government agencies.

Bob Doyle
April 15th, 2008, 04:21 PM
How do we know if the mirror contains mercury?

Val I guess the problem that noone knows of a simple test to perform to check for mercury. No scratch test, like for UV glass, no "slight brown tint from the side", no LineCo mirror mercury pen (like the pH pen).

There may be a chemical test to perform, like the copper burns green, but I don't think you want to scrape off and burn even trace amounts of mercury. Below is a link to one test kit, there are others I found by googling mercury test kit

Heavy Metal test kit (http://www.heavymetalstest.com/mercurytest.php)

Another one from Mass (http://www.bgiusa.com/ihi/mercury.htm)

This company sells the Mass one, a simple swab test LeadCheck (http://www.leadcheck.com/)
Now back to frankenthreading!

Bob Doyle
April 15th, 2008, 04:29 PM
The LeadCheck (http://www.leadcheck.com/) website has a neat pulldown menu for "I want to test" items. Kind of like the this to that gluing site. However I must warn you it can be alarming what we use everyday that we have to worry about!

Candy
April 15th, 2008, 10:22 PM
I can't believe that this thread has gone to five pages; and I have taken the time to read all of them..............it must be the mercury I played with as a kid and those antique mirrors that I have framed over the years.


:D :D :D

jframe
April 16th, 2008, 08:05 AM
Candy, I only have 1 page plus 2 posts on another page. How do you get 5 pages?

imaluma
April 16th, 2008, 09:19 AM
I really shouild have expected all the "I played with mercury when I was a kid" responses. But I was really glad to see so much information.
I am going to choose not to worry, use gloves just in case, n0o vacuum or pressured air for cleaning, just use and toss an old rag.

I am so afraid to visit that last link. I will just get paranoid.

Candy
April 16th, 2008, 04:00 PM
"Candy, I only have 1 page plus 2 posts on another page. How do you get 5 pages?"

I think somewhere on my computer there was a place to regulate how many posts per page.

Bob Doyle
April 16th, 2008, 04:12 PM
USERCP

also switch to "paper1" on the bottom of the page!