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EPA Continues Cleanup of Mercury Spill at Putnam Middle School in Irondale,

Release Date: 03/19/2012
Contact Information: James Pinkney, (404) 562-9183, pinkney.james@epa.gov Wanda Heard, (205) 930-1483, wanda.heard@jcdh.org

(ATLANTAMarch 19, 2012) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Jefferson County Department of Health (JCDH) continue the assessment and cleanup of Putnam Middle School and residential homes in the Irondale, AL area as a result of the March 9, 2012 mercury spill at the Putnam Middle School.

An investigation determined mercury contamination may have spread from the school by student contact resulting in the screening of school buses and residential homes. Based on 193 students and staff turned in items, a total of 137 residential homes required screening. As of Sunday, March 18, 126 homes have been screened and 11 homes remain unscreened. To date, 4 school buses and 8 residential homes have been cleared as a result of elevated mercury readings.

EPA, with assistance from JCDH and local officials will continue screenings and cleanup of the school and residential properties.

Mercury can cause serious health effects, especially for young children, when its vapor is inhaled, or when it comes into contact with skin. Mercury is a shiny, silvery metal that is liquid at room temperature, often found in thermometers, barometers, thermostats, electrical switches, and science labs.