DOH verifying reports 2 persons have skin rashes after mercury spill

MANILA — The Department of Health (DOH) said Thursday they are in the process of verifying reports that two individuals have developed skin rashes after the accidental mercury spill at the Manila Science High School.

In a statement, the department said they are also coordinating with school authorities and Manila’s city government for the necessary response to the outcome of the verification process.

The accidental spill of up to 60 ml of mercury reportedly occurred last March 11 on the second floor corridor outside two classrooms.

Based on initial reports, it was not clear if proper disposal was done after the incident.

Two samples taken had levels equal to 107 ng/m3 and 325 ng/m3, reference standard is 200 ng/m3 (ATSDR), through tests done by the Bureau of Fire Protection.

Meanwhile, to minimize the possible exposure of students and other school personnel, classes have been temporarily suspended until proper interventions are done.

A third-party mercury cleanup services company was also contracted by the school to complete the cleanup.

A multi-disciplinary team led by the East Avenue Medical Center and UP-Philippine General Hospital was deployed to identify those with high levels of mercury on samples collected.

These will include 280 students and some teachers and other school personnel.

The DOH warned that handling metallic mercury should be done with caution.

“Spills can cause acute and chronic illnesses through the inhalation of vapors. It is important that spills are disposed of properly so that harmful exposures that cause illnesses do not occur,” said Health Secretary Dr. Paulyn Ubial. Leilani Junio/