- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 25, 2015

POST FALLS, Idaho (AP) - A Catholic school and church and school in Post Falls have closed so a hazmat team can clean up mercury that was spilled in the school’s science lab.

A student at the Immaculate Conception St. Dominic school decided to play with mercury on Monday when containers of the hazardous substance were removed from a storage locker that was being cleaned, The Coeur d’Alene Press reports (https://bit.ly/1IaDP3f).

Kootenai Fire and Rescue EMS Chief Steve Isaacson said a sophomore student decided to see what mercury looked like in his palm and two other students also thought that was a good idea. Some of the mercury spilling on the floor and hazmat officials found mercury was tracked all over the school.

“The school has a mercury problem,” he said. “After several conference calls, all the state agencies agreed the school needed to be closed until a professional team can get in there and clean it up.”

Isaacson said the amount of mercury that was found exceeded the safe level for exposure.

Isaacson said prolonged mercury exposure can have neurotoxic effects, especially in young children.

Authorities are testing the homes of the three teens who handled the mercury to see if they need to be professionally cleaned. Isaacson said the 15 students who were in the classroom when the mercury is handled are being advised to see a primary physician.

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Information from: Coeur d’Alene Press, https://www.cdapress.com

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