Historic note

Title: Monitoring mercury levels in the atmosphere
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00065923/00001
 Material Information
Title: Monitoring mercury levels in the atmosphere
Series Title: CFREC-Apopka research report
Physical Description: 2 p. : ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Poole, R. T ( Richard Turk )
Conover, Charles Albert, 1934-
Central Florida Research and Education Center--Apopka
Publisher: University of Florida, IFAS, Central Florida Research and Education Center-Apopka
Place of Publication: Apopka FL
Publication Date: 1987
Subject: Plants -- Effect of air pollution on -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Plants -- Effect of metals on -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Mercury vapor -- Environmental aspects -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Paint -- Environmental aspects -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Statement of Responsibility: R.T. Poole and C.A. Conover.
General Note: Caption title.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00065923
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 70709278

Table of Contents
    Historic note
        Historic note
        Page 1
        Page 2
Full Text


The publications in this collection do
not reflect current scientific knowledge
or recommendations. These texts
represent the historic publishing
record of the Institute for Food and
Agricultural Sciences and should be
used only to trace the historic work of
the Institute and its staff. Current IFAS
research may be found on the
Electronic Data Information Source

site maintained by the Florida
Cooperative Extension Service.

Copyright 2005, Board of Trustees, University
of Florida

Central Science
i-- Monitoring Mercury Levels in the Atmosphere Library
R. T. Poole and C. A. Conover OCT 1 4 1987
University of Florida, IFAS,
Central Florida Research and Education Center A)opka, .
CFREC-Apopka Research Report, RH-87-12 Uniersity of Florida

Mercury vapors were reported harmful to plants as early as 1797 and
in 1933 damage to roses was said to be caused by mercury. In 1954,
mercury used as a mildewcide in paint damaged greenhouse roses. Damage
caused by mercury is not as prevalent today because its use is limited
as substitutes have been found to replace mercury. However, some paints
still contain mercury. Contacts with paint formulators indicate that
mercury use is most common with formulators that service local
commercial painting contractors and clientele. We have been told by
paint manufacturers selling national brands that most national brands do
not contain mercury. The material commonly used to supply mercury in
paint is phenylmercuric acetate (PMA) with a dermal LD50 approximately
40 mg/kg in rates. NIOSH has established a maximum level of 0.05
milligrams/cubic meter (mg/m ) mercury in the atmosphere for the human

Mercury in paint was suspected by research personnel at Apopka as
the cause of leaf drop of Ficus benjamin and experiments were conducted
to determine if mercury was causing the problem. During these
experiments, a large variety of plants including F. benjamin and other
foliage plants were exposed to commercial paints containing mercury in
enclosed rooms. Of the plants tested, only Dieffenbachia and Ficus were
affected by mercury released from the paint surface as a vapor.
Dieffenbachia reacted slower than Ficus which began to experience heavy
leafdrop about a week after placement in the rooms. Even after severe
leafdrop, Ficus continued to produce new leaves, but these soon dropped
from the plant.

Since publication of these results, interiorscapers have reported
leaf drop of Ficus benjamin in newly painted buildings. There has been
no report of damage to Dieffenbachia. Inquiries have been addressed to
this center relating to the levels of mercury in the atmosphere required
to damage plants. Although our measurements of mercury vapor have been
limited, we have observed that a commercial paint sold locally yielded a
mercury vapor level of 0.030 mg/m during the first week. This level
declined slowly, and our observations indicate that damage can occur to
Ficus as much as a year later. In our research where we utilized the
same paint mentioned above with 25,50 or 75% of the mercury level
normally used, moderate damage was noted even at the 25% level after 60
days. The data indicate that a mercury vapor level of 0.010 mg/m is
probably damaging, and this has been substantiated by a Denver
interiorscaper who recorded 0.014 mg/m of mercury in a severely
defoliating Ficus planting located in a repainted lobby.

Professor of Physiology and Professor and Center Director,
respectively, Central Florida Research and Education Center Apopka,
2807 Binion Road, Apopka, FL 32703.

Mercury vapors can be determined by obtaining monitors manufactured
by 3M Company, Occupational Health and Safety Products Division, Bldg.
230-B, St. Paul, MN 55133. Monitors used at the Research Center in
Apopka were 3M Mercury Vapor Monitor #3600. Call 1-800-328-1667 to
determine the distributor nearest you. The price, including monitors
and analysis, is approximately $300 for a box containing 5 monitors.
With the information from the monitor you should be able to discuss your
problem with the building owner. The easiest way to solve the problem
is to increase ventilation. Another is to change from Ficus to other
plants such as Schefflera and Palms.


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