Mercury found in a school in Las Vegas required decontamination

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No illnesses have been reported, and investigators so far have found that the overall exposure rate remains low, though the EPA said certain parts of the school, including gym and locker room areas, had mercury detected at as much as 10 to 15 times above safe levels prior to the cleanup. High levels of exposure can cause mercury poisoning, with symptoms including muscle weakness and speech, hearing and walking impairment Dr. Cathleen Clancy, associate medical director at the National Capital Poison Center, a free, nonprofit calling center, said the quarter cup of mercury found isn’t an unthinkable amount and that the volume doesn’t necessarily translate to inherent toxicity.

It was however the largest decontamination effort in the history of the school district –  the fifth-largest school system in the country –  and Las Vegas fire department. It took 17 hours for investigators to screen the 1,300 people at the school in potential danger of exposure.

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