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Crews continue to decontaminate buildings at EKU

Eastern Kentucky University officials are asking any students who may have come into contact with mercury during a spill Thursday to come forward.

In a news conference held early Friday morning, university officials said the Moore Science Building and the new science building will remain closed until crews decontaminate the two buildings.

The spill happened when supplies were being moved to the new building.

We've learned the amount of mercury spilled is likely between 10 and 12 tablespoons, which is an above average amount.

Officials have also identified a leaking barometer as the source of the mercury.

University officials say no students have become sick from the spill.

Around 40 people have been tested for mercury since the spill was discovered. Some students did have their shoes confiscated because of the levels of mercury found on them.

"Mercury exposure is a concern in the airborne pathway," Art Smith, a U.S. EPA coordinator, said. "Mercury vaporizes and inhalation of mercury at toxic levels can be serious."

According to the EPA, Americans are mainly exposed to mercury by eating contaminated fish and shellfish.

Whether an exposure to the various forms of mercury will harm a person's health depends on a number of factors, such as the amount, their age, and general health.

Mercury exposure is most serious for fetuses, infants, and children.

"Of course most people my age when we were children, we used to play with mercury," June Settle, an EKU faculty member, said. "I seem to have survived that but of course we know a lot more now."

There is contamination of the first floor of Moore, the northeast elevator of Moore, the loading dock of Moore, two of the moving contractors trucks, the loading dock of the new Science Building and the third floor of the new Science Building, according to officials.

Signs are posted on both the Moore Science Building and the new Science Building telling students where their final exams have been relocated.


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