Chemical scare over thermometer

Fire crews had to don full chemical suits and breathing apparatus to clean up a mercury spill in the city after a child bit the end off a thermometer.

Albany station officer Graham Haycock said his crew were called to a house on Sunset Rd last week.

The young girl's mother had taken her to hospital when the incident happened and called in the fire crew to check for spilt mercury the next morning.

Luckily, Haycock said the child spat the mercury onto the floor rather than swallowing it.

"I'm led to believe if a child swallows mercury it goes straight through them," he said.

When heated, mercury can evaporate rapidly causing it to go into the air as mercury vapour which is dangerous to inhale.

If it gets on the carpet the worst thing to do is try to vacuum it up, he said.

Fire crews used a machine to test for atomised mercury which was found in a contaminated area of carpet and cut away.

Haycock said people should always call 111 if they're worried about a chemical spill, such as mercury, and seek medical advice immediately.

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