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If they evacuate a school because a tiny bit of mercury hits the floor why on earth did we allow drug companies to put mercury in childhood vaccines? And why is mercury still used in some Adult flu vaccines. Why is mercury used in dental fillings?
Oh brother. I remember in third grade back in the '70s our science teacher pouring a little mercury on the desk for some sort of experiment. She'd probably be in jail today and the feds would have condemned the building as a superfund site.
We used to break thermometers open to play with it on our desks. This wasn't even 20 years ago.
Just a little bit over the top, eh? Give me a break! Safety is one thing - Paranoia is another. .....maybe they should build a new school?
Just because you used to do something doesn't make it okay today. Years ago, people didn't wear seat belts, smoking was common nearly everywhere and people worked with directly with asbestos.
This is your good ol' Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at work. Mercury does not pose a health hazard when handled, like many of us did in grade school. Two instances where it can be trouble: if it is turned into a gas (high heat), inhaled, then turns back to solid in the lungs. Bad mojo. Also if released into the ground and somehow gets into groundwater. EPA mojo. The school should have done a better PR job and kept the PCA out of it and let local firefighters, or Willie the janitor, handle it.
This does seem like an overreaction but I guess it is better to be too safe than sorry. My question is why hasn't the school changed to alcohol thermometers in their science classes. They are cheaper, work just as well, and less "dangerous"?
Several years ago (around 10-15), a mercury blood pressure dial broke (I found it broken- I'm not really sure how it broke or when) and there was a small amount of mercury on the floor in a patient room. This was on an inpatient unit at a local hospital. I called the clinical manager, and he completely blew it off. He called the housekeeper to clean it up, using no special precautions. No patients or famliy members were ever notified of this. Was I over-reacting? Was the manager under-reacting? I think he was under-reacting (which he was known for).
Buzziguanaou may want to do a little more research. Check NIOSH, ACGIH, OSHA, ATSDR, etc. About the only thing you were right on was that inhalation is a significant route of exposure, but that was about it. Murcury will vaporize and become airborne at room temperature.
Evacuate the whole school? Crazy. Get the kids out of the lab and clean up properly is all that was needed.
Remember being taught about barometers and atmospheric pressure in science class? There is a nearly perfect vacuum at the top of top of a mercury barometer because liquid mercury evaporation at room temperature is completely negligible. Apparently, the school does not have a competent science teacher.
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