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Thymerasol Filtering


My name is Tim O'Neill and I am a graduate assistant at the Industrial 
Assessment Center at Iowa State University.  We are currently in the 
process of performing an audit an animal vaccine company in our region 
and we have come up against a problem which involves the disposal of a 
hazardous chemical.

Here is a description of the problem:

Currently the vaccine company has a policy to buy back any vaccine which
goes past the expiration date while in the possession of a customer.
This vaccine, upon being received back at the facility, must be disposed
of.  A large portion of these vaccines contain a chemical called 
"Thymerasol," a mercury based preservative, as an ingredient.  Because 
of this mercury content, the returned material must be disposed of as 
hazardous waste.

The current method of disposal consists of throwing the individual vials
of vaccine, container and all, into 55-gallon drums which are in turn
taken off-site by a haz. waste disposal firm (this waste stream totalled
9,600 gallons in 1996, at a cost of $600/55-gallon drum).

We were wondering if there exists any type of a filtering system
(activated carbon, ion exchange, etc.) which would be able to handle this
type of application.  Another alternative which may exist would be to 
somehow separate and recover the mercury itself.  For example, is there 
some way to cause the mercury to separate and percipitate out of the 

Also, would someone be willing to give me a rough estimate on what such 
a system--if it exists--would cost?

I thank everyone in advance for your help.  If you need any more 
information, feel free to email or call me here at the office 

Tim O'Neill         
Industrial Assessment Center
Iowa State University