Releases of Hazardous Substances in Schools: Data from the Hazardous Substances Emergency Events Surveillance System, 1993-1998. (Features)

By Berkowitz, Zahava; Haugh, Gilbert S. et al. | Journal of Environmental Health, September 2002 | Go to article overview

Releases of Hazardous Substances in Schools: Data from the Hazardous Substances Emergency Events Surveillance System, 1993-1998. (Features)


Berkowitz, Zahava, Haugh, Gilbert S., Orr, Maureen F., Kaye, Wendy E., Journal of Environmental Health


Introduction

Hazardous substances emergency events occurring at schools in the United States have been reported mainly in general investigations of hazardous materials incidents (Burgess, Harter, Kovalchick, Kyes, & Thompson, 2000; Kales, Castro, & Christiani, 1996; Kales, Castro, Christiani, Goldman, & Polyhronopoulos, 1997a). The information about schools and universities contained in those reports has, however, been limited to a few areas of the country and does not include details on the effects of the events (e.g., number of victims, nature of injuries, number of evacuations, and clean-up costs).

The purpose of this report is to analyze school-related events reported during 1993-1998 by 14 states participating in the Hazardous Substances Emergency Events Surveillance (HSEES) system maintained by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), and to describe the importance of the problem in terms of its adverse public health effects.

The following two case reports illustrate the nature of the problem:

1. A 14-year-old student, who was allegedly intrigued by an experiment involving mercury in a school classroom, removed the unguarded mercury from the school lab area after the class. The student then shared the substance with several other students who played with it in the school's hallway and classrooms. After school it was taken to a bowling alley put into the holes of bowling balls, and thus spread through the lanes of the alley Later, the mercury was taken home, repackaged, and brought back to school for further amusement. After school officials were notified, approximately 88 people, mostly students, were decontaminated. In addition, the school, one school bus, the bowling alley, and one residence (where 4 ounces of mercury were reportedly recovered) were decontaminated. The school was closed for three days. The residence was condemned for several days, while clean-up crews tried to locate all mercury contamination. Several of the students with mercury exposure were monitored for symptoms at local hosp itals. Contaminated clothing, furniture, and equipment were discarded. The cost of cleanup exceeded $225,000.

2. A student took a bottle of mercury home, played with it, and took it to school the next day. The mercury spilled in the student's book bag, resulting in a release of 8 ounces. Although no injuries were reported, the student had to be decontaminated, and 25 others were evacuated from the classroom. The classroom was subsequently closed for the day (a Friday), during the following weekend, and for most of the following Monday The school bus this student had taken to school was put into isolation and decontaminated. Classes scheduled for the isolated classroom had to be held elsewhere. The total costs of cleanup and teachers' lost work time were estimated at $3,780.

Methods

Data were collected from the Hazardous Substances Emergency Events Surveillance (HSEES) system, an active state-based surveillance system, initiated by ATSDR in January 1, 1990. This system was. established because there was a lack of information related to the public-health consequences of acute hazardous substances releases (Binder, 1989; Hall, Dhara, Kaye, & Price-Green 1994a). HSEES describes the public-health consequences associated with the release of hazardous substances in terms of distribution and characteristics of the events, substances involved, and victims. The data are collected and maintained in a database, which is analyzed to help identify the risk factors associated with morbidity and mortality and to suggest strategies that may reduce those risks.

Sixteen state health departments currently participate in the HSEES program through a cooperative agreement with ATSDR. From 1993 to 1998, 14 state health departments participated in the program (those of Alabama, Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Releases of Hazardous Substances in Schools: Data from the Hazardous Substances Emergency Events Surveillance System, 1993-1998. (Features)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.