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    Re: Artificial horizons and mercury
    From: Peter Ifland
    Date: 2003 Jul 18, 10:40 -0400

    Thanks George, for pointing us to the very relevant site on
    the practical safety precautions in handling mercury.
    I'm going back to my experiences in the chemistry lab, both
    as a student and as a professional chemist. Yes, mercury can
    be handled safely given some simple precautions. The most
    likely hazard is from long-term. low-level inhalation of
    vapors. Spills, such as George described in the school's
    chemistry lab in an earlier post, are the most common source
    of exposure. Mercury, once spilled, is virtually impossible
    to get back into the flask and it seeks to hide in cracks
    and crevices.
    Here's what I do when using a mercury artificial horizon:
    1. Work outside. Don't open the flask or attempt transfer
    from one container to another in your home or workshop.
    2. Put a large, flat, glass container under the receptacle
    when transferring from the flask to the horizon and back to
    catch any spills.
    3. Return the mercury to the flask when finished taking the
    shots. Don't leave the open horizon lying around, even with
    the glass tent over it. (This will also minimize oxidation
    and discoloration of the surface of the mercury.)
    4. Avoid contact of mercury with your skin.
    5. Don't worry about getting your nose close to the mercury
    for a few moments while taking a shot with the sextant. This
    is trivial exposure, if any.
    6. Talk to your local garbage disposal operator about how to
    dispose of any unwanted mercury. Do not just throw it in the
    If you follow these steps and you still come down with
    mercury poisoning, it's probably from exposure to the
    mercury in the amalgam in your tooth fillings! Hope this
    Peter Ifland

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