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1. Family/Community Involvement Health Education Health Promotion for Staff Healthy School Environment Health Services Physical Education Counseling,

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Presentation on theme: "1. Family/Community Involvement Health Education Health Promotion for Staff Healthy School Environment Health Services Physical Education Counseling,"— Presentation transcript:

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2 Family/Community Involvement Health Education Health Promotion for Staff Healthy School Environment Health Services Physical Education Counseling, Psychological and Social Services Nutrition Services 2

3 Mercury in Schools 3

4 Mercury is a naturally occurring element that is found in air, water and soil. It exists in three forms: elemental or metallic mercury inorganic mercury compounds organic mercury compounds What is Mercury? 4

5 Elemental (metallic) mercury is the shiny, silver-gray metal found in thermometers, barometers, thermostats, electrical switches and other common products. 5

6 It can break into droplets when spilled. The droplets spread easily and can build up in tiny cracks and spaces wherever it is spilled. It can vaporize (evaporate) into the air in the school. The vapor cannot be seen or smelled. It can be toxic to the nervous system, lungs and kidneys. 6

7 When elemental mercury is spilled, or when a device containing mercury breaks, the spilled mercury can vaporize and become an invisible, odorless, toxic vapor. This is especially true in warm, poorly ventilated rooms or spaces. If mercury is spilled onto a hot surface, such as a hot surface in a laboratory, mercury will vaporize very quickly and can be more dangerous. 7

8 Exposure can last a long time if the spill is not cleaned up promptly and properly. Breathing mercury vapors is the most common way to be exposed to elemental mercury, and is the most harmful to your health. 8

9 If elemental mercury is swallowed, most of it passes through your body and very little is absorbed. If you touch mercury for a short period of time, a small amount may pass through your skin, but typically not enough to harm you. 9

10 o Mercury Sources in Schools Two major causes of mercury spills at schools are the improper storage and handling of the following items that contain mercury: o Glass thermometers o Thermostats o Blood pressure devices in medical offices o Mercury switches o Gauges: Manometers, barometers, vacuum gauges o Bulk elemental mercury in science laboratories o Fluorescent lamps 10

11 o Mercury Sources in Schools And, another common cause of mercury being found in schools is because children bring it to school in jars to show it off to others. 11

12 Any amount of mercury spilled indoors can be hazardous. The more mercury is spilled, the more its vapor will build up in the air and the more hazardous it will be. Even a small spill, such as from a broken laboratory thermometer, can produce hazardous amounts of vapor if the room is small enough, warm enough, and if people spend a good deal of time there. Hazards of Mercury 12

13 The heavy, shiny, silver liquid that forms little balls or beads when spilled fascinates children. Children might find elemental mercury at various sites (homes, businesses, neighborhood garages, abandoned or closed factories, or hazardous waste sites.) 13

14 Children also have taken elemental mercury from school physics and chemistry laboratories. Mercury can also get into schools as the result of folk traditions and spiritual practices. 14

15 Mercury Exposure is a Health Concern Symptoms may include: Acrodynia (pink skin disease) Tremors Emotional changes (mood swings, irritability, nervousness, excessive shyness) Insomnia Neuromuscular changes (weakness, muscle atrophy, twitching) Headaches Disturbances in sensations Changes in nerve responses Performance deficits on tests of intellectual function 15

16 Mercury Exposure is a Health Concern Kidney effects, respiratory failure and death can occur with increased exposure. People concerned about exposure to elemental mercury should consult their physicians. 16

17 Disposal of Mercury Containing Devices Proper disposal of used mercury-containing items is important to protect health and the environment. Improper disposal of containers with mercury in them might allow them to break and release mercury vapors, which are harmful to human health and the environment. 17

18 Disposal of Mercury Containing Devices Opportunities for the safe disposal of mercury can vary depending on location. Many states and local agencies have developed collection/exchange programs for mercury-containing devices Safe disposal of mercury-containing products is discussed on EPA's mercury disposal webpage at: 18

19 What Never to Do After a Mercury Spill Never use a vacuum cleaner to clean up mercury. The vacuum will put mercury into the air and increase exposure. Never use a broom to clean up mercury. It will break the mercury into smaller droplets and spread them. Never pour mercury down a drain. It may lodge in the plumbing and cause future problems during plumbing repairs. If discharged, it can cause pollution of the septic tank or sewage treatment plant. 19

20 What Never to Do After a Mercury Spill Never wash clothing or other items that have come in direct contact with mercury in a washing machine Never walk around if your shoes might be contaminated with mercury. 20

21 What to Do if there is a Mercury Spill If there is a Mercury Spill in Your School: Isolate the area Turn down the temperature Open windows Don't let anyone walk through the mercury Don't vacuum Contact the local or state health or state environmental agency 21

22 What to Do if there is a Mercury Spill Mercury can usually be cleaned up easily from the following surfaces: wood, linoleum, tile and any similarly smooth surfaces. If a spill occurs on carpet, curtains, upholstery or other absorbent surfaces, these contaminated items should be thrown away in accordance with the disposal means outlined below. o It is only necessary to cut and remove the affected portion of the contaminated carpet for disposal. 22

23 What to Do if there is a Small Mercury Spill Visit the following website for cleanup instructions: Items needed to clean up a small mercury spill 4-5 zip lock-type bags trash bags (2 to 6 mils thick) rubber, nitrile or latex gloves paper towels cardboard or squeegee eye dropper duct tape, or shaving cream and small paint brush flashlight powdered sulfur (optional) 23

24 Mercury in Schools 24

25 If you have questions about mercury or if you have questions about cleaning up a mercury spill of any size, Please contact: 24 Hour Emergency Contacts Iowa: Kansas: Missouri: Nebraska: EPA Region 7:


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