Answer reviewed 27 February 2023
Regarding the clean-up of the broken thermometer, we have the following comments:
- We are not sure what the overpowering odour was, but your emergency response was correct to evacuate the affected room, especially if the fluid in the bulb was creosote which was the case with some of the older model maxima minima thermometers.
- As your research has shown you, more recent maxima minima thermometers usually have an alcohol in them and without having access to the manufacturers’ information, it is difficult to know, what the fluid actually is.
- We have previously answered some questions regarding the clean-up of mercury. For detailed information please see
- Given that mercury and an unknown alcohol or solvent has spilled onto carpet, which is a porous material, it will be considered hazardous waste and should be removed and disposed of. You may need to get some professional assistance with this.
- Different states have different government organisations that may be able to help you. For example, the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage has a webpage dedicated to this type of question see https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/questions/broken-mercury-thermometer-...
- If you have several intact similar thermometers, it may be wise to dispose of them as well via a hazardous waste disposal contractor, to prevent a repeat of this incident.
- When replacing thermometers, we recommend purchasing non-mercury thermometers.
NSW Department of Planning and Environment, (2019, November 13), I have broken a mercury thermometer. How do I clean up the spill?, Retrieved from the NSW Department of Planning and Environment website. https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/questions/broken-mercury-thermometer-...
Oxford University Press (2023), Six's thermometer, Retrieved from the Oxford Reference Website: http://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/oi/authority.20110803100509453
Syvum Technologies “Physics Theory: Thermometers”. Syvum Technologies website: https://www.syvum.com/cgi/online/serve.cgi/squizzes/physics/thermometers...
The free dictionary (2003/2005) Six's thermometer, Retrieved (27 February 2023) from The free dictionary website. http://encyclopedia2.thefreedictionary.com/Maximum+minimum+thermometer