Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

Public health consequences of mercury spills: Hazardous Substances Emergency Events Surveillance system, 1993-1998.

By Perri Zeitz, Maureen F Orr and Wendy E Kaye


We analyzed data from states that participated in the Hazardous Substances Emergency Events Surveillance (HSEES) system maintained by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry to describe the public health consequences of mercury releases. From 1993 through 1998, HSEES captured 406 events in which mercury was the only substance released. Schools and universities, private residences, and health care facilities were the most frequent locations involved in mercury events, and human error was the contributing factor for most of the releases. Fourteen persons experienced adverse health effects as a result of the releases. An additional 31 persons had documented elevated levels of mercury in the blood. No fatalities resulted. Evacuations were ordered in 90 (22%) of the events, and the length of evacuation ranged from 1 hr to 46 days. Mercury spills have a significant public health impact and economic burden. Some actions that could potentially lessen the consequences of mercury spills are to switch to mercury-free alternatives, train people in the safe handling and disposal of mercury, and keep mercury securely stored when it is necessary to have it on hand

Topics: Research Article
Year: 2002
OAI identifier:
Provided by: PubMed Central

Suggested articles


  1. (2001). Alert About Mercury in Necklaces. Available: [cited 30
  2. (2001). Department Releases Alert on Mercuryfilled Necklaces from Mexico. Available: http:// [cited 30
  3. (1989). Disease Control and Prevention. Current trends—acute and chronic poisoning from residential exposures to elemental mercury—Michigan,
  4. (1988). Disease Control and Prevention. Mercury exposure in a high school laboratory—Connecticut.
  5. (1994). Disease Control and Prevention. Mercury exposure in a residential community—Florida,
  6. District joins effort to liquidate mercury.
  7. (1999). Eliminating mercury use in hospital laboratories: a step toward zero discharge.
  8. Hazardous Substance Emergency Events Surveillance System. Unpublished data.
  9. (1996). Inc. Statistical Analysis Software. Release Version 6.12.
  10. (1993). Managing mercury: simple, effective methods for cleaning up small spills.
  11. (1993). Managing mercury: viewpoints from inside the hospital.
  12. (1997). Mercury rising? Here’s how you can control this hazard.
  13. (1998). Mercury spills: an under-recognized hazard.
  14. (1997). Mercury toxicity awareness in the nursery.
  15. (1999). Public health response to metallic mercury spills in Kansas.
  16. (1986). Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of
  17. (1990). the Census.
  18. (1999). Toxicologic Profile for Mercury (Update). Atlanta, GA:Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry,

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.