what is a mercury thermometer

@allenJo - Ask your doctor what medical thermometer they use. There are two general types of mercury thermometers that measure body temperature: Alternatives to mercury fever thermometers, Cleanup and disposal after breaking a thermometer, Learn more about how to tell if there is mercury in your fever thermometer, NIST’s February 2011 press release announcing the change, final rule incorporating updated ASTM International (ASTM) standards into EPA regulations (PDF), View a list of the updated ASTM standards, Phasing Out of Mercury Thermometers Used in Industrial and Laboratory Settings page, specific state laws, resolutions and declarations, What to do when a mercury fever thermometer breaks/spills, How to recycle and dispose of mercury products, Oral/rectal/baby thermometers, containing about 0.61 grams of mercury, Basal temperature thermometers (used to track slight changes in body temperature), containing about 2.25 grams of mercury. This type can be used either orally, which is to say slipped under the tongue, or rectally. Contact Us to ask a question, provide feedback, or report a problem. The functionality of the bulb is to store the mercury and is usually made of stainless steel, but can be made of glass as well. Due to these facts, it is also obviously a substance that is difficult to clean up if ti spills. Mercury thermometers are used in households, laboratory experiments, and industrial applications. When the tool is placed outdoors or in the body, the metal tip heats and mercury stretches along the length of hollow space within the tube. The mercury in mercury thermometers is poisonous if the thermometer breaks. The disposable "hat" of an ear thermometer can be replaced, and do not need to be soaked and disinfected. You can use Earth911's Recycling Locator Exit to find a mercury recycling center near you. I think you can get them for under $50. These can all be used orally, rectally, or in the armpit. These are similar to mercury thermometers in both price and use. Maybe I’m not using it properly, I don’t know. Mercury expands as the temperature increases, thus raising the reading, while decreasing temperatures contract the mercury, lowering the reading. An official website of the United States government. Mercury, which is also sometimes known as quicksilver, is a silvery liquid that responds very well to atmospheric changes, particularly temperature and barometric pressure. Noun 1. mercury thermometer - thermometer consisting of mercury contained in a bulb at the bottom of a graduated sealed glass capillary tube marked in degrees Celsius or Fahrenheit; mercury expands with a rise in temperature causing a thin thread of mercury to rise in the tube Like everything else electronic I remember digital thermometers used to be a little bit more expensive than they are currently! Higher temperatures cause mercury to grow longer, while low temperatures cause it to fall or shrink back down. Some states and municipalities have passed laws or ordinances barring the manufacture, sale and/or distribution of mercury fever thermometers. The American Academy of Pediatricians and the United States Environmental Protection Agency, for instance, have each suggested alternative temperature-measuring devices for personal use in order to reduce the risk of accidental exposure. The alternative to the mercury thermometer is the digital thermometer, which measures temperature by monitoring changes in electrical properties voltage and resistance of metals inside the device. The basic instrumentality is usually pretty simple. The digital thermometer is not only faster on … The accuracy of alcohol thermometers is less than mercury thermometers as alcohols are more prone towards evaporation, capillary separation and, polymerization potential, whereas the measurement of mercury thermometer is more accurate as mercury is susceptible to sufficient expansion to observation regarding temperature changes from 0.1° which helps graduate the thermometer. In a mercury thermometer, a glass tube is filled with mercury and a standard temperature scale is marked on the tube. Learn more about how to tell if there is mercury in your fever thermometer. At home I’ve taken different temperature readings when using the ear thermometer and got different results each time, usually off by a degree or two – sometimes within the same hour. The United States has not banned mercury in medical settings, though many advocacy groups have recommended a number of safety precautions. A variety of accurate and reliable mercury-free fever thermometers are available at your local pharmacy. A mercury thermometer broke: what to do? If you break a thermometer while using it or if you improperly dispose of it, the thermometer will release mercury vapors that are harmful to human and ecological health. Although currently there are digital thermometers this form of temperature measurement is still very much in demand, in addition to being very simple to use. There are a number of different model types, sizes, and specifications, but the general operating principle is about the same in all cases. They are common in many households, schools and medical facilities. I really loved the idea of plastic strip thermometers because with mercury thermometers I was always worried about my children dropping the glass vial and breaking it. The basic concept of each different type of thermometer is the same, but the style differs. Most modern models work this way, and though advancements have been made in terms of presentation the basics are usually about the same. The mercury-in-glass or mercury thermometer was invented by physicist Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit in Amsterdam (1714). The ear thermometer is cleaner and less invasive than an oral thermometer, which is what it has going for it, but if I can’t be sure that the temperature is accurate it’s not much use. This thermometer is a thin glass tube with a silver tip and line inside. If the liquid in your thermometer bulb is silver, then the liquid might be: a non-toxic compound that looks similar to mercury. Fold the paper towel and place in a zip locking bag. Some of them will deliver temperature readings within two to three seconds rather than forcing you to wait for almost a minute as with other consumer grade digital thermometers. Spilled mercury can be very challenging to clean, since the loose liquid often forms rounded “balls” that can bounce and scatter across a floor or room. The bulb is the basis of mercury thermometers. The oldest technology is the mercury-in-glass thermometer. Accuracy Because of sensitivity of temperature, high thermal conductivity, low thermal capacity, good visibility and non-wetting of the internal capillary walls of the thermometer, mercury is typically a very accurate gauge of temperature. Until recently 260° C was the typical limit for non-mercury thermometers. I think as long as you are careful there is no need to drop $50 or more on a digital thermometer. However, in a gaseous state, as organomercuric compounds or as inorganic salts, it becomes a deadly toxin. The German physicist Gabriel Fahrenheit is credited with inventing the first mercury thermometer in 1714, which he made with a glass tube attached to a small well of mercury. Mercury thermometers are designed utilizing the idea that mercury expands with heat. Within the confines of the thermometer there isn’t usually any safety risk, but should the glass break, exposure is likely. They are painless to use and disposable so you don’t have to worry about cleaning anything. Nitrogen gas is what usually holds the mercury in place, and usually has to be inserted during the manufacturing process. Thick glass generally encases the temperature-sensitive liquid metal. I have found that the digital thermometers that you press against your forehead are absolutely terrible. If you have children and they are scared of having their temperature taken in a traditional method you can buy nifty plastic strip thermometers. View a list of the updated ASTM standards. The volume of mercury changes slightly with temperature; the small change in volume drives the narrow mercury column a relatively long way up the tube. Better accuracy for temperature measurement results. The battery is a button-cell battery and may contain a small amount of mercury, so it should be recycled with a hazardous waste collection program. For daily use, despite prices, a digital thermometer is the best choice. A mercury thermometer is a tool used to measure temperature. Mercury can be toxic if consumed, and it can also cause skin and eye damage if touched or respiratory distress if inhaled. I remember using them in every lab science class I ever took in high school and college. However, they present many safety and environmental hazards. With changes in temperature, the mercury expands and contracts, and the temperature can be read from the scale. I know that the ear thermometer has become the instrument of choice as physicians got away from the more invasive rectal thermometer, but I wonder if the they are as effective as they claim to be. Most people use the word “accuracy” loosely, lumping in lots of meanings that are not technically included and would be better stated as “overall accuracy”. With the strips you stick on you no longer have to worry about any of that. Mercury thermometers may be used in many applications, including chemical experiments, water and acid baths, blood banks, ovens and incubators. Mercury is one of the most familiar materials used in liquid thermometers. The silver tip and line is mercury. I'm pretty sure I remember when they started phasing out mercury thermometers for at home use. Mercury is a neurotoxin, and if you are exposed to it outside of its typical glass thermometer tube, it can cause you to go deaf, experience tremors, memory loss, and partial blindness, among other awful permanent side effects. Although many people commonly associate thermometers with a mercury filling, the dangerous properties of mercury have spurred manufacturers to use other liquids inside the glass gauges. United States Environmental Protection Agency. Mercury fever thermometers are made of glass the size of a straw, with a silvery-white liquid inside. Some thermometers may still contain mercury but many typically contain less toxic liquids. The silver color in the bulb normally indicates the presence of mercury. This is to help remove the threat of thermometer breakage and the subsequent release of mercury vapor indoors. Mercury thermometers can be used to determine body, liquid, and vapor temperature. Contact your local trash collection program to see if there's a … The thermometer usually has a small reserve of liquid mercury in its base, which is most often pressurized; above it is usually a glass or synthetic tube with a calibrated temperature scale. Mercury thermometers are no longer recommended because they can break and allow mercury — which is toxic — to escape. EPA has launched an effort to reduce the use of mercury-filled non-fever thermometers used in industrial settings where suitable alternatives exist. Mercury thermometers are inexpensive, durable and accurate. Other liquids, such as kerosene or ethanol , may also be used in these types of thermometers. A mercury thermometer is a tool used to measure temperature. Everyone knows that mercury is one of the most powerful poisons, thus, have toxicity even mercury vapor. With changes in temperature, the mercury expands and contracts, and the temperature can be read from the scale. It’s dangerous if a mercury thermometer shatters on the ground since mercury is toxic. When heat rises, the liquid expand s from a bowl or bulb into the empty area, climbing up the tube. If you have a mercury thermometer in your home and you want to get rid of it, you need to safely dispose of it as hazardous waste. Common household uses of mercury thermometers include fever thermometers and oven, candy and meat thermometers. Standard mercury freezes at -37.89°F (-38.83°C). To date, multiple ASTM standards have been updated to approve the use of mercury-free alternatives for temperature measurement. It is at the bottom and is cylindrical or spherical depending on the artifact. Medical doctors often use a version known as the maximum mercury thermometer to measure human body temperature. Mercury is a liquid metal that has been used in thermometers for many years, but it is toxic if swallowed or inhaled. You should choose a thermometer that is easy to use and read. The accuracy of a mercury thermometer varies depending on many thing. This thermometer can measure temperatures in the ranges of -30 to +300 ° C . I know the hospitals use some digital ear thermometers that are supposed to be rated very high for accuracy, and as a consumer you can buy these models yourself. 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