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Mercury leaks from thermometer at doctor's office

January 03, 2011

HAGERSTOWN — Rescue workers cleaned up mercury Monday at a doctor’s office at 1130 Opal Court after the substance leaked from a large thermometer at the office, a Hagerstown Fire Department spokesman said.

Such thermometers usually hold about a pound of mercury, Capt. Russ Grim said.

Grim said a special-operations unit cleaned up the mercury at Antietam Oncology, and the Maryland Department of the Environment responded with special monitors to make sure all the material was removed and that patients were OK to leave, Grim said. A hazardous waste contractor also responded to help with the cleanup and to dispose of the mercury, Grim said.

Grim said he does not believe there was any threat to patients or employees as a result of the leak, which was reported at about 1 p.m. Grim said the  Maryland Department of the Environment was finishing up its work when he left.

Exposure to mercury can cause health complications like poisoning and birth defects, Grim said.

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