DOH: No mercury poisoning among Manila Science High teachers, students

MANILA-- The Department of Health (DOH) has reported that none of the 280 teachers, students, and personnel of the Manila Science High School possibly exposed to mercury has been found to be suffering from mercury poisoning.

"So far, we have not seen any student or teacher who has had dangerous exposure to mercury and suffers from mercury poisoning," DOH spokesman, Dr. Eric Tayag, said Tuesday.

Last March 11, about 60 ml of mercury was accidentally spilled at the second floor corridor of the school, just outside two classrooms. Some 280 teachers, students and personnel who could have been exposed to the substance have undergone tests conducted by the UP-Philippine General Hospital and the East Avenue Medical Center.

Tayag said those in the list of people possibly exposed to mercury but have not been tested may still avail of the free check-up provided by the government even though the March 25 deadline has lapsed.

"Those not in the list may ask to be checked but that will already be at their own expense. It costs around PHP1,000," he said.

Meanwhile, the health official said that aside from shouldering the medical check-up, the government will also provide psycho-social debriefing to students, parents, and school personnel who still worry about the consequences of being exposed to the highly toxic chemical.

He assured that those who will be found suffering from mercury poisoning will be given free medication for six months.

Inhaling mercury vapor could result in adverse health effects ranging from tremors, dizziness and headaches to problems in the lungs, liver and kidney, depending on the level of exposure, he said.

In a related development, Tayag said they will be holding an inter-agency meeting to discuss how to avoid a repeat of the incident.

The agency will be meeting with the departments of education, interior and local government, and environment to review the guidelines dealing with such incidents.

Source: Philippines News Agency