School authorities investigating reasons behind increase in mercury spill cases in Sabah

KOTA KINABALU: Education officials are in the midst of finding out why there is an increase in the number of mercury spill cases in schools around Sabah.

State Education Department director Datuk Tah Niah Jaman said they wanted to find out the reasons and initiate follow up actions, including preventive measures to address the matter.

“We will come up with ways to help schools prevent such incidents but first, we need to get details including how it happened,” she said when contacted on Thursday (Oct 6).

This comes after the latest mercury spill case at SMK Peter Mojuntin Penampang on Wednesday (Oct 5).

Prior to that, there was also other cases reported in SMK Perempuan Sandakan (Sept 30), SMK St Mary Papar (Sept 26), SMK Jambatan Putih Tawau (Sept 14), SMK Bukit Garam 2, Kinabatangan (Aug 12) and SMK Kota Klias, Beaufort, on Aug 11.

Sabah Health Department director Datuk Dr Rose Nani Mudin said anyone encountering broken thermometers or mercury spills must immediately inform the Fire and Rescue Department for assistance.

She reminded the people not to panic when dealing with a mercury spill.

“Open the door and windows, leave the room immediately and use an adequate spill kit (if you are trained).

"Only enter the room at least 15 minutes after opening the door and windows and call the Fire and Rescue Department to do decontamination and cleaning,” she said.

Exposure to high levels of mercury vapor through inhalation can cause cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

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