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Waste Site Cleanup & Reuse in New England

Golden Pond Mercury Release

Golden Pond Assisted Living Residence sign

In the morning of April 7, 2009, a nurse, nurse’s aide and a patient were in an examination room when a blood pressure meter (a sphygmometer) fell to the floor and spilled mercury. Following guidance from an EPA website, a facility employee taped closed the room’s air ducts and an outer door, then the facility notified the National Response Center (NRC report #902025). Subsequently, they spoke to the EPA New England emergency response duty officer.

The Hopkinton fire department and board of health responded to the scene. EPA arrived at 1:30 p.m. and integrated into incident command.  EPA’s Superfund Technical Assessment & Response Team (START), using sensitive mercury (Hg) air monitoring equipment, conducted air monitoring before and during the removal. The facility’s removal contractor cut out contaminated materials and vacuumed the area with specialized equipment. Then, the room was heated for eight hours and ventilated.

The following day, EPA’s START team conducted post-removal air monitoring, and the results for the examination room (150 ng/m3, room sealed off for an hour) indicated that the response action had lowered Hg levels to below the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry’s (ATSDR) threshold. Other testing indicated continued low background levels (5ng/m3) for the child care center and background levels (10-11 ng/m3) for the two apartments. The facility also hired an industrial hygienist to perform hopcalite tube air sampling. OccuHealth, Inc. conducted a test for re-occupancy, and sampling and analysis showed mercury levels were below 700 ng/m3 (ND by lab standard).

Location: Hopkinton, MA
Start date: 04/07/2009
End date: 04/08/2009
Contact: Claudia Deane (deane.claudia@epa.gov)

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