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  • Rob DeMalo

Tech Tip: Monitoring Airborne Mercury (Hg) Vapor Levels

Updated: Aug 31, 2021

Earlier this year, we turned an important spotlight on Mercury (Hg) in rubberized flooring coming on the heels of the technical presentation by IEC founder and principal, Michael P Menz, CIH, CHMM at the Environmental Information Association (EIA) National Conference. Using real life examples and work case studies, he illustrated the hidden hazards, detection and solutions, including what schools and districts can do to mitigate these dangers.

It is well-known that schools nationwide have installed rubberized, polyurethane floors in gyms for decades. Yet as attention on the Mercury (Hg) within them and its far-reaching effects mounts, IEC has been engaged by schools throughout the region to address the issue. Mitigation of risks however is not removal alone. One needs to protect the building occupants and contractor workers from Hg exposure during the remediation phase throughout the process. This is leads to our first in a series of helpful tech tips.

Tech Tip: Handheld Hg meters are a valuable tool for monitoring airborne Mercury (Hg) vapor levels during the removal of Hg containing rubberized gym floors. However, if using a device pre-calibrated by an instrument rental company, step one should always be to purge the unit several times and use the zero-air filter before beginning to monitor. At a recent school project site, IEC suspected initial meter readings appeared to be unusually high (left image). This was validated when compared to readings from the same Hg meter make and model that had been purged and “zeroed” out.

The New Jersey Department of Health recommends a maximum airborne Hg level of 0.8 ug/m3. Despite receiving a Certificate of Instrument Calibration showing calibration measurements in the allowable range, it is good practice to request that the instrument company perform the pre-calibration with a low standard that meets the applicable regulatory guidance and project specifications when monitoring a school or any Hg abatement.

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