Date: Tue, 1 Jun 2010 12:19:01 -0400
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From: "Norwood, Brad" <Brad.Norwood**At_Symbol_Here**ARISTALABS.COM>
Subject: Mercury from thermometers (again)
In-Reply-To: <69796A25-A940-4789-A67C-45D2EF9970DA**At_Symbol_Here**>

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us_md: Students, School Staff Isolated After Thermometers Break 

BALTIMORE -- A group of elementary schools playing with thermometers caused a hazmat situation Friday in Baltimore. 

Fire department spokesman Kevin Cartwright said more than a dozen people were isolated after broken thermometers prompted concerns about the mercury insi de. 

The incident occurred at Rodman Elementary School on West Mulberry Street. 

The students and staffers affected were to be showered in a decontamination trailer. 

There were no injuries reported. 

Cartwright said the students were playing with thermometers that broke and released mercury.

Y’all knew this was coming, right?

Once again, the absence of someone (anyone) with a cool head and a mere modicum of common sense has caused a heinous over-reaction to a non-situation.

Before several amongst you inundate me with claims of how th is really is a serious event, let me pre-empt your knee-jerk reactions to my statement:

1)  Unquestionably, mercury is hazardous, and represent s a severe chronic threat, particularly when exposures occur over an extended period of time.

2)  Proper remediation of the spill must be performed any time mercury is spilled.

3)  As noted in the earlier discussion, EPA must be notified if more than 454g are released.

But folks, seriously?  Decontamination of the st aff and students?  This is patently and demonstrably asinine.  There is NO conceivable scenario, dealing with elemental mercury from a thermometer or two, in a room of moderate size and with normal ventilation, by which these folks were exposed to anything remotely warranting bringing in a  220;decontamination trailer”.  If there were an acute danger from playing with mercu ry from thermometers, I and most every science major in my generation would already be brain-damaged and/or dead.

Again, my main focus here is the fact that we are reinforcin g MINDLESS FEAR instead of understanding and respect for chemicals.  ; If we, the ‘experts’ in response, don’t exercise wisdom and judgment, if we make every call to us a local disaster response, eventually someone w ill not report something because they don’t want to cause a scene – and that’ll be the one we will have really wanted them to bring us in on.

Okay, I’ll take your flames now.


Dr. Bradley K. Norwood

8302 Shady Ridge Lane

Mechanicsville, VA  23116

(804) 559-7212 (H)

(804) 271-5572 ext. 307 (O)

(804) 641-4641 (cell)


You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling the wage payer down.
You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
You cannot build character and courage by taking away people's initiative a nd independence.
You cannot help people permanently by doing for them what they could and sh ould do for themselves.

.....Abraham Lincoln

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