In October 1996, the directions of public health in the Eastern Townships (Estrie-DSP) and a multipurpose area that have requested the collaboration of the Center for Toxicology of Quebec (CTQ) to the management of mercury spill metal in a class-chemistry laboratory. During our first intervention, we found that the floor area of this class (~ 100 m) was covered with fine droplets of mercury. The sink drains, edges of walls and tables of the laboratory and some cabinets were heavily contaminated by mercury. Continuing our investigation, we found that the classes in physics and biology, space science technician and the corridor leading access to these premises, the ventilation system of the multi-trap some students and two homes were also contaminated. By working closely with management, the health service, the service of cleaning, the technician and the Science of apprentice versatile, family physicians, the DSP-Estrie Center and Anti-Poison of Quebec ( CAPQ), the CTQ has been managing the decontamination and monitoring part of the event. By combining the measurements of total mercury in biological media (urine, blood and hair) of metallic mercury in air and total mercury in airborne dust, we quickly assessed the seriousness of cases. The turning point of our intervention was the timeliness of decontamination primary and secondary classes problematic, the corridor leading to these classes and some lockers of students. The work done in less than two days, combined with the speed of the Laboratory of Toxicology of Quebec to provide the results in biological environment have restricted any panic among the people involved (parents, teachers, teenagers, director of education, etc.).
[...] We advise people not trained in the decontamination of mercury to the management of such a spill because the concentrations of mercury in the air when the mercury is recovered are usually 10 to 20 times the acceptable standard in an industrial environment which is 0.05 mg / In this work of decontamination is to evaluate continuously the concentrations of mercury in the air and wear protective equipment. Therefore, we recommend the following procedure if there is a major mercury spill in a given. [...]
[...] The concentration of mercury in the hair of the girl for the segments to 10-11) are respectively and 4.5 nmol / g .Thereafter, the teenager was hospitalized for a week and has undergone treatment with a chelator. Family # At the residence of the girl was found mercury metal behind the baseboard electrical room. In the week of 15 December 1996, the mercury has been recovered. On 23 December 1996, when our expertise to this residence, we found that the situation was normal in the room with the teenager. [...]
[...] On the one hand, the management of a mercury spill in this type of establishment is complex because several rooms have no window, and often the ventilation system of the laboratory are not adequate to experiment with dangerous products. On the other hand, there are mercury-free instruments as accurate and safe to perform laboratory experiments. In this versatile, no one believed that mercury was a hazardous product. This has resulted in a high case of mercury poisoning, a situation that was already beginning to become alarming in this versatile in October 1996 and the contamination of at least two residences. [...]
[...] The concentration of mercury in the hair of the girl showed a low to moderate exposure with a maximum concentration at 7.0 nmol / g (segments 6). The urine among other members of this family were all below 25 nmol / l. On 6 February 1997, a second environmental expertise at this residence by the DSP-Estrie showed a normal situation in all parts of the house. Against by the central vacuum was still contaminated. Mercury concentrations measured was 0005 mg / (vacuum hose) and 0006 mg / in the bin of the vacuum cleaner. [...]
[...] If in a Versatile Estrie Trigger: At the end of September 1996, a student of secondary V went to consult his doctor versatile for skin problems, and he admits to having played with metallic mercury in a laboratory experience in chemistry. The concentration of mercury in the blood is high (255 nmol / l). An investigation went underway at the Polyvalente parents and students were informed of the situation. The CTQ CAPQ and were also consulted. Assessment of the situation For this assessment, we combined the following results: Results of the internal investigation conducted at the multipurpose Results of biological monitoring Results of observations made during the inspection of classes and other concerned local Results of measurements of concentrations of mercury in air (base rate, with normal operations and maximum) Results of measurements of the concentration of total mercury in airborne dust (environmental monitoring from April 1997) Results of the preliminary assessment Investigation to the versatile Following the investigation conducted by management and the health of the versatile, the following emerged: The experiment in question took place during the second week of September. [...]
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