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Williamston Student Recovering From Mercury Poisoning

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Williamston Student Recovering from Mercury Poisoning

I can remember playing Quick Silver, a hand held mercury maze game where the object of the game was to get a small blob of mercury in the center of the maze, for hours at a time.  But there were no fun and games when a student at Williamston Middle School fell ill from mercury poisoning.  The Environmental Protection Agency plans to clean up a small amount of mercury from the high school grounds today.  The boy apparently acquired a small vial of mercury from his grandparents’ basement without his parents’ knowledge.  The boy kept the vial in his backpack until it broke one day while he was riding his bicycle.  The vial broke on the high school property back in May, but recent tests still showed a small amount of mercury on school grounds, prompting the EPA cleanup.

Boy Exposed to Mercury for Months

Unfortunately, the boy kept the bag where the vial originally broke through the summer.  He even took the bag on a camping trip and left it in proximity in his bedroom.  The health department was notified after the boy was taken to the hospital for mercury contamination symptoms.  Mercury poisoning is particularly dangerous to the elderly and pregnant women, and is a concern with some fresh water fish in Michigan because of polluted waters.

EPA Removes Items from Boy’s Home, School

The EPA removed carpeting, bedding and clothing from the boy’s home to get rid of the mercury.  In addition, the also removed toys and a vacuum cleaner.  The workers also attempted to salvage highly sentimental items by heating them to high temperatures to remove mercury, but it is a costly and time-consuming process.  When it comes to mercury, just two tablespoons is enough to cause a serious problem, and it is estimated that the boy spilled a little more than a tablespoon.  The school was cordoned off today as EPA agents worked to remove the mercury there, too.  The boy has not returned to school since falling ill, but the school superintendent said that she hopes to call the family to check on the boy soon.