Clovis East, Reyburn Intermediate closed Friday after mercury exposure

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Clovis Unified School District said Clovis East High School and Reyburn Intermediate School will both be closed Friday after a student brought loose mercury to Reyburn Thursday. (KFSN)

Clovis Unified School District said Clovis East High School and Reyburn Intermediate School will both be closed Friday after a student brought loose mercury to Reyburn Thursday.

School officials say some students were in contact with the liquid metal, but at this time, no one has reported suffering from any symptoms of mercury exposure. Symptoms include burning in the nose, rashes, or difficulty breathing.

Mercury can be dangerous so the school district had to react. The EPA had to be called in but the risk from this exposure appears to be small.

The closure of the two schools affected more than 3,000 students. Most seemed to get word of the closure, but not everyone received the message.

"Well, I'm a nurse so it's always good to take public safety precautions so I do agree with that I just wish there had been a voicemail," Leslie Gacad said.

The amount of mercury was small, about two ounces. Mercury is an unusual substance and is interesting to manipulate. But according to poison control doctor, Rais Vohra in this form did not really pose much of a health threat.

"It's always very unlikely that form of mercury causes the type of toxicity we worry about with that type of mercury which is inhaling the vapors," Vohra said.

The doctor notes vapors could be inhaled however if the mercury is on the floor, and swept or vacuumed. Even though the risk was small he says the school district is obligated to make sure the schools are safe.

Six classrooms are being cleaned, and all of the students who handled the mercury have been contacted. None had any symptoms.

The district says the student who had it got it from another child, and efforts are underway to track the source. Because of the cleanup and testing the district is notifying students and parents that some weekend sports activities at Clovis East and Reyburn have been moved to different locations.
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