Mercury Report - Children's Exposure to Elemental Mercury
Children attending a daycare in New Jersey were exposed to elemental (metallic) mercury. The daycare opened in a building that was previously a thermometer factory. Before the daycare opened, the building was not cleaned properly.
Elemental mercury can cause health problems.
Congress wanted to know more about events related to elemental mercury exposures. They asked the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) to review the ways children are exposed. ATSDR worked with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prepare a report about their findings.
For children, most elemental mercury exposures happen at home or at school.
See section 10.1 of the report for more information
See section 10.2 of the report for more information
Any location in which mercury is spilled and not properly cleaned up can cause exposure. For example, some medical and dental clinics use mercury or items that contain mercury. If these items are broken, children could be exposed. Children can also scavenge mercury from abandoned properties.
Exposure to elemental mercury most often occurs when it is handled the wrong way or when a spill is not cleaned up correctly.
State and federal agencies work to teach people about mercury and to make it less available. Information on how to clean up mercury spills is also available.
Scientists reviewed data from six sources:
- ATSDR—Health Consultations and Emergency Response Calls,
- ATSDR—Hazardous Substances Emergency Events Surveillance,
- U.S. Coast Guard—National Response Center database,
- American Association of Poison Control Centers—National Poison Data System, and
- Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics— Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Units,
- Scientific articles about events that exposed children to elemental mercury.
The report did not include a review of mercury exposures from coal-burning power plants, dental fillings, fish, medical waste incinerators, and vaccines.
Parents and school officials can limit children’s exposure to mercury through some simple steps.
ParentsLearn more about mercury, and teach children about the dangers of mercury. Visit http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxfaqs/tf.asp?id=113&tid=24 or call 1-800-CDC-INFO (232-4636) for more information.
For more information on how to correctly dispose of items that contain mercury, visit http://www.epa.gov/hg/spills/ .
EducatorsList the possible sources of mercury at school. Ensure that students cannot get to them. Properly dispose of mercury and items that contain mercury. Visit http://www.epa.gov/mercury/schools.htm for information, advice, and materials.
Health Care ProvidersList the possible sources of mercury in a medical or dental office. Properly dispose of mercury and items that contain mercury. For more information on how to correctly dispose of items that contain mercury, visit http://www.epa.gov/hg/spills/.
Also be aware of the signs and symptoms of mercury exposure. If these nonspecific symptoms are present and not otherwise explained, ask about past and current mercury exposures. For more about mercury, visit http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/mmg/mmg.asp?id=106&tid=24 or http://www.aoec.org/pehsu/training.html