Mercury spill closes middle school

Mercury spill closes middle school
By: Erica Byfield

CALLOWAY COUNTY, Ky. - Administrators, parents and students in a heartland school district got quite a scare.  Federal and state EPA investigators found mercury on a bus, in the school and on children.

At one time you could find mercury just about everywhere like in thermometers and thermostats.  Now, it's not as common but one child found a lot of it on his grandmother's shelf.  "A grandparent had some mercury in what looks like a small aspirin bottle for many years," said Calloway County Schools Public Information Officer David Dowdy.

Somehow the little bottle made its way on to a school bus and inside Calloway County Middle School. "It was slivery like a ball and splashed everywhere," said eighth grade student Chelsea Snyder.  "We have located that bottle, unfortunately there's not too much mercury left in it," added Dowdy.

District leaders closed up the school on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.  The also created an assembly line in a non contaminated area where all students, like Chelsea, are asked to have their shoes tested.

Chelsea said she actually played with the mercury in class on Friday (November 3rd), "I'm not going to touch it again." Lee Ann Myers, her mom, said after hearing about the spill she did a little research, "we found out that it can be very deadly and it's dangerous and it stays with you forever and it's easy to transport around."

Liquid mercury becomes hazardous in warm temperatures, around 75 degrees, therefore cleaning crews set up large fans to keep the building cool.  Also in an effort to ensure the spread they've ripped out carpet in 4 classrooms and hallways.
District leaders don't know who, how much or even where their students may have tracked the mercury, so they're putting the word out to make sure your student doesn't get sick.   
There is still no official word when school will re-open and as of Wednesday afternoon no one at school has been hospitalized because of the exposure.
Symptoms of mercury poisoning include chills, a metallic taste in your mouth, mouth sores, swollen gums, nausea and vomiting to name a few.   if you are at all worried please contact a doctor.