Huntington Beach, CA, February 23, 2023
The Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) was recently called to a medical center in the San Fernando Valley to respond to a mercury spill in the facility. According to the LAFD, the mercury was reported on a floor and wall, resulting in the building being temporarily evacuated to ensure the HVAC system did not create a hazard for patients and staff.
Mercury is a naturally occurring element that is found in air, water and soil. It exists in several forms, including elemental or metallic mercury, inorganic mercury compounds and organic mercury compounds. Pure mercury is a liquid metal that volatilizes readily, often referred to as quicksilver. It was used to make products like thermometers, switches and some light bulbs in the past.
At room temperature, exposed elemental mercury can evaporate to become an invisible, odorless and toxic vapor. Mercury is a neurotoxin and possible symptoms of mercury poisoning listed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency include:
- Loss of peripheral vision
- "Pins and needles" feelings, usually in the hands, feet and around the mouth
- Lack of coordination of movements
- Impairment of speech, hearing and walking
- Muscle weakness
“Exposure to mercury can be a serious health concern and there continue to be exposure risks that most people don’t know exist,” said Michael Chapman, Laboratory Manager of LA Testing’s Huntington Beach facility. “For example, some water-based paints used mercury as a preservative until its use was discontinued in the early 1990s. There are also homes that were built prior to 1968 that still have mercury-containing gas pressure regulators in them.”
Anytime a mercury spill occurs, experienced professionals should be involved to assess the level of contamination and ensure it is properly remediated. Environmental testing for mercury provides the information needed to identify the hazard, document the contamination, and then following cleanup actions, verify environmental conditions are once again safe for building occupants. To help in these situations, LA Testing offers mercury and other heavy metal testing services. They also provide all of the required sampling supplies and have even sponsored an educational video about mercury exposure and health effects that can be seen at: https://youtu.be/QVu5js60PWI
To learn more about mercury or other environmental, material, occupational, health and safety testing services, please visit www.LATesting.com, email info@LATesting.com or call (800) 755-1794.
About LA Testing
LA Testing is California’s leading laboratory for environmental, indoor air quality and material testing for mercury, asbestos, mold, bacteria, lead, VOCs, formaldehyde, soot, char, ash and smoke damage, particulates and other chemicals. In addition, LA Testing offers a full range of air sampling and investigative equipment to professionals and the general public. LA Testing maintains an extensive list of accreditations including: AIHA LAP LLC., AIHA ELLAP, AIHA EMLAP and AIHA IHLAP, CDC Elite, NVLAP, State of California, State of Hawaii Department of Health and other states. LA Testing, along with the EMSL Analytical, Inc. network, has multiple laboratories throughout California including South Pasadena, Huntington Beach, San Leandro and San Diego.