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Strathclyde Fire and Rescue Service has recently purchased Able Instruments and Controls’s Jerome mercury detection system for its technical support teams and mobile technical support laboratory.

Strathclyde was acting on the advice of one of its fire board’s constituent local authority’s scientific advisory services, Glasgow Scientific Services.

Mercury (or Hg), also known as quicksilver or hydrargyrum, is at liquid at or near-room temperature and pressure and is mostly obtained by reduction from the mineral cinnabar.

It is used in thermometers, barometers, manometers, sphygmomanometers, float valves and other scientific apparatus and it is also used in a number of other ways in scientific research applications.

It is harmless in an insoluble form, such as mercuric sulphide, but mercury poisoning can result from exposure to soluble forms, inhalation of mercury vapour or eating fish contaminated with mercury.

The mercury detection system will be used by Strathclyde Fire and Rescue Service to verify the presence and level of mercury vapour during incidents involving mercury spillage to ascertain whether the environment is safe to enter.

This could include spillages from simple household thermometers with 0.2mg, from barometers with 50-100mg or up to unlimited quantities in industrial gauging.

The previous method used to verify potential mercury inhalation hazards required testing in a technical support mobile laboratory.

This method can take up to two or three hours to verify any hazard before the situation can be dealt with.

With Able’s system, the verification time can be cut down by between 50 per cent and 75 per cent.

This will allow the service to ascertain and deal with any potential situations rapidly, freeing up their time for any other emergencies without delay, provided that the situation is non-toxic.

Designed to provide a lower detection limit of 0.5ug/m3, the new generation of Able’s Jerome portable mercury vapour analysers is suitable for making fast, accurate measurements in accordance with the Health Protection Agency’s public health guidelines for air quality, which recommend exposure limits of 1ug/m3.

The Jerome system combines the proven, inherently stable, highly specific and reliable gold-film technology with one-button operation and these attributes have led to a strong endorsement of the instrument by emergency services carrying out detection inspection monitoring, according to the company.

The instrument may be operated in survey mode for tracing sources of mercury hazard or in analytical mode for a measurement accuracy of +/-10 per cent and a repeatability of 15 per cent RSD at 1ug/m3.

Able Instruments and Controls

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