ARMSTRONG, Iowa – A man with a 40-lb jar of mercury walks into a bar. Sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, right? Well it actually happened the other day in Iowa and ended with more than a dozen people, , including four children, being monitored for mercury poisoning
It all started when a construction worker remodeling a home found a plastic bottle in the basement that contained 40 pounds of liquid mercury. The man decided to take the mercury to a bar so he could show it off to his friends.
While there, someone knocked over the container, spilling half of the mercury on the floor. The bar owner attempted to clean the spill with a shop-vac and a broom. Wanna guess the worst way to clean up a mercury spill aside from lapping it up with your tongue? Not only are the broom and vacuum now contaminated, the heat from the vacuum cleaner’s motor creates even more mercury vapor in the air.
Now that around a dozen bar patrons have been exposed to the mercury, the man decided he’d had his fun and took the remaining 25 pounds of mercury back to the house–and hid it in a sandbox. That’s where four children under the age of 10 later found it and when one of these kids would put his fingers into the mercury and then into his mouth.
According to the EPA, breathing small amounts of mercury vapor can harm the nervous system of children. Breathing larger amounts of mercury vapor can cause irritability, tremors, or memory loss, chest pain, high blood pressure, kidney damage, respiratory failure and death. That’s why an EPA hazardous materials team was sent out to properly clean up the mercury in the sandbox and at the bar.
As for the worker who started all of this, he could be facing criminal charges for illegally transporting hazardous materials. If I were one of those kid’s parents, I’d want to give him a solid sock to the nose. No one is sure why that large amount of mercury was in the home in the first place. The current owner, as well as the two previous owners, say the mercury has always been in the basement. Waiting.Tags: Crime, Iowa, mercury, poison