Mercury Spill in Marion Middle School

By Corinne Rose

June 18, 2010 Updated Nov 16, 2007 at 7:26 PM EDT

(Marion, IN) -- A health scare at a middle school in Marion involving a mercury spill.

Administrators say several students played with the liquid metal after one of them sneaked the hazardous material into school.

In its liquid form, mercury isn't all that bad for you. It's the vapors that are dangerous if you inhale them.

Classes were cancelled at McCulloch Middle School on Friday, while environmental experts cleaned the building.

A sixth grader brought several tablespoons of mercury to school last Friday, and played with it with his friends, spilling some in a classroom.

Thursday -- almost a week later -- a science teacher noticed some droplets on the floor, recognized what it was, and alerted administrators.

Because students might have tracked the liquid metal through the school, 75 pairs of shoes were confiscated, with Wal-Mart giving the kids new ones.

And 20 families have asked the State Health Department to test their homes for mercury contamination.

Kevin Biddle\McCulloch MS Asst. Principal: " He came clean. He didn't know that what he had was a dangerous substance, I don't believe. He was very cooperative. And the students that had handled it came down, told us that they'd had it, and you know, it was kind of exciting and fun for some of them, I think."

No one has gotten sick from the mercury.

In fact, health officials say you'd have to be exposed to mercury vapors for a long time before you'd see any symptoms.

As for disciplinary action against the student, the assistant principal said he didn't think the boy had any intent to harm anyone, but he wouldn't comment further.

There's no word on why the boy's family had the mercury in their home.

Classes should resume Monday.

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