Mercury Poisoning Mercury Investigation Continues As Classes Resume For Durham Students
POSTED: 7:04 am EDT May 25, 2006 UPDATED: 5:07 pm EDT May 25, 2006
DURHAM, N.C. -- About 10 children have began showing symptoms of acute mercury intoxication, a state health official said Thursday during a news briefing about a contamination scare that shut down Oak Grove Elementary School on Wednesday.
Durham County Health Director Brian Letourneau said Thursday health workers have also identified about a dozen homes that need to be assessed and that the church in which air-conditioning technician Carlos Guerra allegedly gave mercury to four children was also contaminated.
Investigators said Guerra started the chain of events that caused officials to shut down the Oak Grove Elementary School, close a church and place seven houses and three buses under quarantine.
Guerra is charged with misdemeanor larceny for allegedly stealing mercury from his job site in Garner. Investigators believe he then took the heavy metal to his Durham church and gave it to several children.
The children then took the liquid home and to school where other children were exposed. Health officials said Wednesday that one child was being treated for possible mercury poisoning.
Authorities said they are not sure if Guerra was aware of the mercury danger. He told them he called the mercury, "magic water."