BAKERSFIELD, CA – 21 people were treated for mercury contamination after first responders found between eight to ten ounces of liquid mercury spilled in an alley, and was reportedly tracked into nearby businesses and a school for disabled adults.
According to a Bakersfield Fire Department news release, the mercury may have been there for up to 10-days near the Kern Adult program building located at 2900 Eye Street.
Bakersfield Fire had to evacuate the school and check all 140 students for mercury poisoning before they were released.
It is unknown at this time if the mercury was intentionally or unintentionally dumped, the release said. The contractor with be working BFD environmental services with the clean up and ensure further contamination.
Mercury is a metal found naturally in the environment. It comes in a few forms. Elemental (metallic) mercury is the shiny, silver-gray metal found in thermometers, barometers, thermostats, and other electrical switches.
- Mercury can break into droplets when spilled. The droplets spread easily and can build up in tiny cracks and spaces wherever it is spilled.
- Mercury can vaporize (evaporate) into the air. The vapor cannot be seen or smelled.
- Breathing in mercury vapors is the most common way to get mercury poisoning – and also the most dangerous.
- Mercury can be toxic to the nervous system, lungs, and kidneys.