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Q & A: danger from liquid thermometer?

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Most recent answer: 05/16/2011
Q:
The other day at school I picked up a broken thermometer the one that's U shaped, and I got some clear liquid on my hand from it. Now here's my question, what is inside that thing? A few minutes after I touched it, my hand got all tingly like there was electricity in my hand. Is it anything dangerous?
- Chris (age 15)
A:
We honestly don't know what was in that thermometer. It obviously wasn't mercury, which isn't transparent. Most likely, it was some sort of alcohol, often used to have a liquid that has a low freezing point. As for the tingling, that doesn't sound familiar. Was there any marking on the thermometer to indicate who manufactured it? They could probably tell you what was in it. Perhaps the chem teacher knows where the thermometer was obtained.

My guess, which is more or less worthless, is that there's nothing to be gained by worrying.

Mike W.

(published on 05/16/2011)

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