Fayette County

Mercury spill results in Lexington woman being taken to hospital

An woman was taken to the hospital and five other people, including three children, were decontaminated on Tuesday because of a mercury spill.

For a time Tuesday evening, people who were exercising at William Wells Brown Elementary School were told not to leave, because fire officials needed to check for possible contamination there. No contamination was found, said Battalion Chief Jeff Nantz of the Lexington fire department.

Firefighters who were called to a home at 601 Shelby Street at 3:41 p.m. Tuesday found a spill that had occurred Monday night, when a wall-mounted blood pressure cuff broke, Nantz said.

He said the levels of vapor in the house "were significantly high." The woman, who Nantz said was elderly and bedridden, was taken to University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital as a precaution because she was showing signs of illness from the vapor.

In addition to the two other adults and three children at the house, the family dog was decontaminated.

Nantz said a company that specializes in mercury cleanup was called in because the mercury had "been spread through the house."

He said the family would not be able to occupy the home at least for the night.

Nantz said the elementary school was checked for mercury because two of the children had attended school there on Tuesday.

"We just want to rule it out," he said. "It could exponentially spread if you don't contain it."

Nantz said the incident serves as a reminder that people should properly dispose of any items containing mercury that they have in their homes.