A small mercury spill on the second floor of a University of Maine building Thursday evening was cleaned up promptly, according to university spokesman Joe Carr.
A barometer left in 206 Barrows Hall, which contains shared space for the electrical engineering department, leaked less than a teaspoonful of mercury. A custodian noticed it and called UMaine Public Safety. They then alerted the Orono Fire Department, which has training in handling hazardous materials.
“Working with UMaine environmental health and safety staff to check for unsafe levels of mercury vapor, they determined that this was not an emergency situation,” Carr wrote in an email.
The spill has been cleaned up and no injuries have been reported. The news of this incident broke on Twitter, with students reporting a spill to The Maine Campus around 5 p.m Thursday.
According to the Washington State Department of Health, “Symptoms of inhaling mercury vapors can include nausea, respiratory problems, tremors, numbness in the fingers and toes, loss of muscle control, memory loss, kidney disease, and heart problems. Some of these effects can be reversible if the exposure stops, however, memory problems can be permanent.”