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The CDC recently warned people that antiques containing mercury may pose a health hazard. Antiques that may contain mercury include mirrors, clocks, barometers, thermometers and lamps. The hazard comes about when an antique is moved, jostled or the old seals leak, releasing the mercury. According to the CDC, exposure to high amounts of mercury can lead to brain damage as well effect the heart, kidneys and lungs.
The CDC also affirms in the report that many states restrict the sale of items with mercury in them. Many antique dealers are now worried that this report will hurt the antiques business. Experts say that many of the items that are sold today, such as barometers and thermometers are a very small portion of the antiques market. Others say that many of the items that contained mercury at one time or another have long since lost it.
If you do have antiques that contain mercury and it does happen to spill you shouldn’t panic, but do get expert help in removing the spill. Do not try to vacuum the spill as the heat of the vacuum could vaporize the mercury and make things worse.