How PCC informed (or didn’t inform) People about the Mercury Spill.
The 2016 Mercury spill in Sylvania campus’s HT building is covered in Juan LaCayo’s story in this issue. While it appears the college administration acted quickly and responsibly to manage the spill, what is less clear is how well people who risked exposure to the toxic element were informed.
According to the EPA, exposure to the elemental mercury can “lead to tremors, headaches, poor mental function”, while more serious symptoms may lead to “kidney effects, respiratory failure and death.” As Mary Cumpston states in her article, the EPA recommends that a building be evacuated before a crew can come in and clean up the amalgam leak.
Since the signing of 2008’s Oregon House Bill 3611, state law requires Oregon dentists who place or remove mercury-containing materials from the oral cavity to install a separator. The law also requires all Oregon dentists to be in compliance with ODA’s Best Management Practices (BMPs), #10 stating that dentists must “Train staff members in mercury/amalgam spill cleanup procedures”.
The Bridge attempted to contact several staff members who work in the Health Technology but they all referred us to Cecilia Baguio, the public information officer for the Sylvania Campus. Ms. Baguio was able to confirm that people who worked in the childcare center and parents of children who used the center were informed, and the center’s operations were moved to another room for the last two days they were open that term. The Bridge is currently unaware if employees or students who were in the building were notified about the leaky gasket spill. The Bridge attempted to contact Simone Chaves, director of the CDC, but no response has been received.
Ms. Baguio did share a copy of the Child Development Center “Report Card” that was given to parents who brought their children to the center this fall. The report card reports quantities of Lead and Copper in the water, and makes note of the “Sewer smell” but aside from mentioning a drain being fixed, dos not mention the Mercury spill.Sylvania CDC Environmental Report Card_final (2)