Date: Mon, 10 May 2010 11:45:36 -0400
Reply-To: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: List Moderator <ecgrants**At_Symbol_Here**UVM.EDU>
Subject: 3 re: Hg response

From: McGrath Edward J <Edward.McGrath**At_Symbol_Here**redclay.k1>
Date: May 10, 2010 10:14:42 AM EDT
Subject: RE: [DCHAS-L] Chemical Safety headlines from Google

Since my area of (expertise?  Let=92s go with =93area of responsibility=94) is K-12 science safety, I=92d like to address the LaGrange Middle School Hg incident.


I=92m thinking the decision to close the school had less to do with minimizing a hazard and more to do with minimizing the chance of litigation.  The article gives no specifics, i.e. was the vial open?  How much mercury was in the vial? However, if the county health officials recommended school closure, there=92s no way the principal would decide against this action.  Imagine the court case:  we find out (heaven forbid) that a child goes home sick, the family lawyer determines that the child had symptoms =93consistent with mercury poisoning,=94 and the principal had been advised by county health officials to close the school but didn=92t.  I think you can imagine what happens next.  I doubt that a single parent would complain about the decision to close school for the day.


On the other hand=97=93sodium hydroxide, an acidic liquid cleaning solution=85=94  as an educator, I want to cry!


Edward J. McGrath
Science Supervisor
Red Clay Consolidated School District


office:  (302) 552-3768

From: david.iacovone**At_Symbol_Here**
Date: May 10, 2010 10:13:25 AM EDT
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Chemical Safety headlines from Google

Any amount of spilled mercury is a cause for concern.  I just recently responded to a mercury spill in Oakland, Maryland, in which a 20-30 ml vial of mercury being played with by students was enough to contaminate 14 rooms above levels acceptable to ATSDR and the local health department.  Exposure limits to non-responder personnel can be set as low as 10 micrograms per cubic meter.  Even though the volume is small, the mass is higher than normal.  I was part of the U.S. EPA team that responded to the release (START).  The school was closed down for over a week until it was remediated to acceptable limits.

From: "Reinhardt, Peter" <peter.reinhardt**At_Symbol_Here**>< /font>
Date: May 10, 2010 10:07:06 AM EDT
Subject: RE: [DCHAS-L] Chemical Safety headlines from Google - mercury spills

Re the mercury spill, please note that ATSDR=92s Minimal Risk Level (MRL) for mercury for non-occupationally exposed individuals is 200 ng/M^3. Studies have found tremors, impaired cognitive skills and sleep disturbance in workers with chronic exposure to mercury vapor near this level, and even a very small spill can exceed it. In addition, most of us have a mercury body burden to due environmental exposures. It is a serious problem, especially for children. Areas where mercury spills occur need to be closed, tested and cleaned.




Peter A. Reinhardt
Director, Office of Environmental Health & Safety
Yale University
135 College St., Suite 100
New Haven, CT   06510-2411
(203) 737-2123


Previous post   |  Top of Page   |   Next post

The content of this page reflects the personal opinion(s) of the author(s) only, not the American Chemical Society, ILPI, Safety Emporium, or any other party. Use of any information on this page is at the reader's own risk. Unauthorized reproduction of these materials is prohibited. Send questions/comments about the archive to
The maintenance and hosting of the DCHAS-L archive is provided through the generous support of Safety Emporium.