OT A tale of two webpages, both from the same city

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OT A tale of two webpages, both from Baltimore City
http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/bs-md-elementary-hazmat-20100528,0,5144107.story City school staff, students isolated after thermometer break More than a dozen held on concerns of mercury exposure Associated Press 9:47 p.m. EDT, May 28, 2010
A Baltimore fire department spokesman says more than a dozen people at a Baltimore school have been isolated after broken thermometers prompted concerns about the mercury inside.
Kevin Cartwright, a spokesman for the fire department, said between 12 and 20 students and staff were isolated Friday at Rodman Elementary School in West Baltimore.
Cartwright says there were no signs of significant injuries. The students and staff were to be showered in a decontamination trailer.
Cartwright says students were playing with thermometers, which broke and released mercury.
http://www.umm.edu/pediatrics/mercury.htm OR http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q Κche:l_HhQTk4fXgJ:www.umm.edu/pediatrics/mercury.htm+poisonous+mercury+thermometer&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&lr=lang_en|lang_iw|lang_es Univerity of Maryland Medical Center, Hospital for Children Parent Education - Caring for Kids
Mercury Myths And Realities
If a mercury thermometer breaks what should you do? Could your health be at risk? These are two of the most common questions asked of the experts at the Maryland Poison Center at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy. Below you'll find the answers and more facts about mercury.
* Mercury is a shiny, odorless, poisonous metal that is a liquid at room temperature. * There are three types of mercury: elemental, organic and inorganic. * Elemental mercury is found in thermometers, barometers, blood-pressure devices, fluorescent lights, batteries and is used in dental offices. * In 2000, 4,186 cases of mercury exposure were reported in the United States. * Most mercury poisoning occurs from breathing contaminated air or from ingesting contaminated water or food. * Long-term exposure to a large amount of mercury could cause neurological problems. * Short-term exposure to a small amount of mercury is not likely to cause health problems. * The amount of mercury in an oral/rectal thermometer is not enough to be toxic. If a child were to ingest mercury from a thermometer, it should not cause any health problems.
So you can even eat the stuff. Admittedly there was more than one thermometer in the first story, but I doubt if they did more than barely touch it. I used to play with liquid mercury when I was 7 to 12 years old, and I'm yako.
* The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents use a digital thermometer as opposed to a mercury thermometer when taking a child's temperature. * Place a mercury thermometer in a sealable plastic bag when throwing it away. * To clean up a broken thermometer, use two sheets of paper to pick up the beads of mercury. Then place them in a plastic bag before disposing of the material. * Never use a vacuum cleaner to clean up mercury. * For a larger mercury spill, contact the Maryland Department of the Environment 24 hours a day at 410-974-3551. * For questions and poison emergencies, call the Maryland Poison Center 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-222-1222.
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http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/bs-md-elementary-hazmat-20100528,0,5144107.story
They will probably monitor their health for the next 20 years now.
At a school not far from here, it was discovered the near 100 year old building had asbestos in the ceilings. So they had an emergency evacuation and closed the school until it was removed months later. Good thing they did not wait another 90 minutes to the end of the school day to send the kids home.
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I was told that common sense was a misnomer. It isn't very common at all. At least not 5 years ago. This was in the VA system, told to me as a revelation by a cleaning person whose deep insight might have been helped by illegal experiences of the chemical kind.
--
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Han
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On 5/29/2010 7:27 AM, Ed Pawlowski wrote:

As a retired chemist, wide spread chemo-phobia is one of my pet peeves. Like op said, as school kids, we would play with mercury. Lot of us have silver/mercury fillings in our teeth. Today if you break a mercury thermometer or cfl, they want to call in the EPA.
Same for asbestos. Sure, fibers breathed into your lungs can cause a problem but asbestos is not going to jump off pipes or insulation and attack you.
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On 5/29/2010 8:03 AM, Frank wrote:

Are you sure? Non-friable asbestos is clearly more dangerous than Plutonium...
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Even worse is the irrational and ignorant popular conception that "chemicals" are bad things; that man-made "chemicals" are necessarily toxic. Try to tell people that EVERYTHING is "chemical", even air and water, and you get skepticism and/or blank stares.

Hearing aid batteries used to contain substantial amounts of mercury. When I was a kid, I'd save up a bunch of batteries (size 675) and my sister and I would smash them flat on the garage floor to release the mercury. With enough batteries, we could get enough for a squished ball about 1/4" in diameter. Lots of fun to play with. We'd keep it in a film canister for storage.
Even back then, we knew mercury wasn't to be eaten, so we were careful with it. I also remember a lurid nursery-rhyme about a boy who died after licking the "mercury" off the back of a mirror. This tale had an effect on our treatment of mercury.
--
Tegger

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Don't ever tell people where you lived. They will close down the neighborhood as a toxic waste site.
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I smashed a lot of batteries at 2002 Wheeler St Houston, TX 77004
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Christopher A. Young
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wrote

I guess I also shouldn't mention the location of the warehouse where, in the '70s, co-workers and I used to try to quick-cool warm soda cans with long blasts of Freon...
--
Tegger

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Even worse, we used CO2 fire extinguishers. Come to think of it, that summer was pretty hot, too.
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Wish I'd known. I've recycled untold hundreds of mercury #13 size hearing aid batteries. I'd have saved them.
--
Christopher A. Young
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They had size-13 back then? My current hearing aids take that size. 13's are pretty small.
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My first hearing aids (behind the ear) taking size 13 were about 1968 or so.
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Christopher A. Young
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Yes; we also used to 'play with' mercury. Broken thermometers, traces from school lab etc. But am now in mid-late 70s and it hasn't got me so far! But wasn't mercury once used as treatment for syphilis? Although mighta been a case of the cure worse than the disease?
Have fun.
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wrote:

We did that with our fingers. You'd tap the ball with a fingertip, which would send tiny drops skittering everywhere. Then you'd push all the bits back together again and start over. It was fun to push two larger drops slowly together and marvel at how, the instant they touched, they'd snap into a single ball.
It was fascinating how dirt particles never seemed to get mixed up with the mercury; it would roll right over the dirt.
I figure playing with mercury did more good for our mental health than any modern video game.
--
Tegger

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<SNIP stuff already quoted to edit for space>

How about formaldehyde? I have heard people calling that some dangerous neurotoxin where there is no safe level of exposure, and zero tolerance is required.
But I was in class the day my high school biology teacher explained the chemical reactions in photosynthesis. And I was paying attention in class that day. A CO2 molecule plus an H2O molecule, with energy obtained from light, are rearranged into an O2 molecule and a CH2O molecule. The formaldehyde is used in plants to build carbohydrates.
If you pick something live and green and being exposed to light and then you eat it, guess what!
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wrote:

That's not what the lawyer on the TeeVee sez.
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As kids we used to buy it at the drug store and keep it in a vial. We used to play with it a lot, pushing it into small bb type sizes, and then pushing it back to original size while moving it along the floor. We also used it to shine coins and stuff. Never hurt us that I know of and I'm in my 60's now.
Cheri
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On 5/29/2010 7:03 AM, Frank wrote:

I remember reading something about a young woman who was a scientist working for the EPA who discovered that only one type of asbestos fiber was dangerous. She was told to keep her mouth shut because the people in charge might get slaughtered by everyone who had to spend billions of dollars unnecessarily. Perhaps it's a myth?
TDD
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On 5/29/2010 7:27 AM, Ed Pawlowski wrote:

Unfortunately this is the kind of shy is falling in stuff that really discredits (and rightly so) these government agencies.
Someone I know is replacing one of their business locations with a new building. One of the procedures for tearing down the old small one story building was to get some sort of hazardous materials permit. Some inspector had to be hired and he found that a 5x5' (yes, 25 sq ft) office had floor tiles that "may contain asbestos". So it cost $3,800 and delayed the project by two weeks until the proper outfit which was rated to handle the highly dangerous non-friable asbestos could be hired.
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