News Release 080

Department of Natural Resources oversees mercury cleanup at Lebanon High School

Volume 38-080 (For Immediate Release)
Contact: Judd Slivka
573-751-1010/573-340-9DNR (9367) (after hours)

JEFFERSON CITY, MO, FEB.20, 2009  -- Emergency responders from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources are investigating a mercury release at Lebanon High School.

Responders from the department's Southwest regional office were dispatched after the department was notified at approximately 2:40  p.m. Friday by the high school’s nurse that an amount of mercury had been released as school was being dismissed for the weekend.

Department responders advised district officials to isolate and ventilate the area. When Department responders arrived, they discovered mercury in three locations in the school. DNR staff has been working with staff from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and the Laclede County Health Department Office of Emergency Management to remediate the situation.

According to the Department of Health and Senior Services' Bureau of Environmental Epidemiology, any possible health issues for students will depend on their length and level of exposure to mercury vapors. People who are concerned about potential exposures may contact the joint information center that is being coordinated by the Laclede County Health Department, Office of Emergency Management and Lebanon R-3 at 417-532-6992 for more information on mercury exposure or their personal physician for medical concerns.   The center will be staffed from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Saturday.

Lebanon Public Schools will have updated information on the status of classes on Monday on its website: http://www.lebanon.k12.mo.us. Students and parents will be notified of updates via the school's telephone notification system.

Metallic mercury is liquid at room temperature and has no odor. It was once commonly used in thermometers, barometers, switches and blood-pressure measuring devices.

When spilled, some of the metal will evaporate into the air and can be carried long distances. Mercury is toxic when inhaled. Improper clean up with a vacuum, paintbrush or household cleaner increases exposure by dispersing the mercury into the air. For more information on cleaning up mercury spills, see the department's website: /env/mercury-cleanup.htm.

To report an environmental emergency, including mercury spills, please the contact the Department of Natural Resources' spill line at 573-634-2436. For more information about the Missouri Department of Natural Resources contact the department at 800-361-4827 or 573-751-3443, or visit the department's Web page at dnr.mo.gov.

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