Date: Fri, 26 May 2006 16:14:49 -0700
Reply-To: Alan Hall <ahalltoxic**At_Symbol_Here**MSN.COM>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: Alan Hall <ahalltoxic**At_Symbol_Here**MSN.COM>
Comments: To: Barbara Foster


Liquid mercury is the elemental form of mercury.  As such, it can 
contaminate a variety of media including rugs, floors, etc.  It will 
SLOWLY release MERCURY VAPOR which when in enclosed spaces and in high 
concentrations can cause serious lung disease from inhalation exposure 
(NOT common with the "brought to school" experience).  If INGESTED, it 
generally passes through the gastrointestinal system without causing 
harm.  There are specific circumstances in which it can be more toxic, 
but these are extremely rare.  There are specific and general means to 
"clean it up", most involving complexation with compounds with 
sulfhydryl (-SH) groups --such as "Flowers of Sulfur".

These school exposures generate significant concern, seldom any 
significant clinical problems, and all should be referred to your 
Regional Poison Center for advice, whose toll-free 800 number can be 
found inside the front cover of every telephone book in the US.

DON'T PANIC!  This is NOT an acute poisoning problem.  Most State and 
Local Health Departments already have protocols in place for 
decontamination of elemental mercury.  Your Regional Poison Center can 
advise you.  

Oh, it'll be all over the news.  From my old days at the Rocky Mountain 
Poison and Drug Center, Denver:  "You can trust the media to spell your 
name right when they quote you wrong, and attribute anything you say 
that is correct to somebody else."

Send 'em to me, if they want a balanced opinion.

Alan H. Hall, M.D.
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Barbara Foster 
  To: DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU 
  Sent: Friday, May 26, 2006 6:45 AM

  Does anyone have any information regarding the mercury exposure
  incident(s) that allegedly contaminated a public school, buses, a
  church, and private homes in Durham, NC this week?
  This incident does not appear to have made the national news, yet, but
  I have been told that it has been featured in the local media.

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