Atlanta — As a new school year gets underway, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has released two teacher training videos as part of a campaign intended to call attention to the dangers of mercury exposure.
The Environmental Protection Agency responds to about 60 mercury spills each year, ATSDR states, most often in schools.
A naturally occurring metal that is a silvery, shiny liquid at room temperature, mercury can produce ingestible poisonous vapors if a product containing the element is broken or spilled.
According to the ATSDR, short-term exposure to high levels of metallic mercury vapors may cause effects, including lung damage, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, increases in blood pressure or heart rate, skin rashes, and eye irritation.
One video, Mercury: Danger in Your School, explains common sources of mercury, the effects of mercury exposure, potential consequences of spills and the importance of establishing a mercury spill response plan. The video also shows a spill response in action.
The other video, Mercury Spill Cleanup, covers how to perform vital tasks, including:
- Taking inventory of mercury products.
- Making a spill cleanup kit.
- Responding to spills.
- Cleaning small spills.
- Contacting and working with outside professionals in case of large spills.
“By preparing for a mercury spill at your school and familiarizing yourself with the many local, state and federal agencies available to help you, you will be able to minimize students’ and staff exposure to mercury and potential harm to their health,” the “Mercury Spill Cleanup” video states.
Both videos are available in English and Spanish.