Penn State Hazmat team called to State High for broken mercury thermometer

The Penn State hazardous materials team was called to the State College Area High School North Building Wednesday morning for a mercury spill.

A school administrator told the CDT that a single thermometer broke when it was dropped on the floor during Doug Schunk’s fourth-period advanced chemistry class.

Principal Scott DeShong said the class evacuated and no one was reported injured or harmed.

“The school district’s hazardous materials procedure was followed,” he said in an email. “As per the procedure, students were immediately removed from the area.”

Based on the amount of mercury that was in the thermometer, Penn State hazmat officials determined that the only potential danger to students would be if they had stepped in it, DeShong said.

DeShong said officials checked students’ shoes for contamination. All tests were negative. The area was then cleared, decontaminated and checked for contaminated laboratory equipment, resulting in the removal of one melting-point apparatus from the classroom.

The spill was cleaned up just after noon Wednesday.