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

By Perri Zeitz, Maureen F Orr and Wendy E Kaye

Abstract

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: oai:pubmedcentral.nih.gov:1240725
Provided by: PubMed Central

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