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Apr 17, 2012 9:59 PM

Mercury Spill Forces Lexington Family From Home

A family of seven and their dog were decontaminated after mercury spilled inside their Lexington home on Shelby Street. The oldest woman was so sick she went to UK Hospital for treatment.

What made this situation worse was how long firefighters say the family had been exposed to the vapors.

The spill call came in Tuesday around dinner time but firefighters discovered it had happened at least 24 hours earlier.

"The levels are so high right now in the home that our folks can't go in without their breathing apparatus on," said Lexington Fire Battalion Chief Jeff Nantz.

The invisible vapors are odorless, too, but mercury can damage organs and even kill someone. In this case, it sent Theresa Frater's mother to the hospital.

"Nobody would think that a little small thing like mercury could cause such a big problem," said Theresa.

Frater first saw what she described as "silver balls" on the home's floor Monday night. She tried to sweep, even pick them up, but the balls only multiplied and then it hit her.

"I asked for my high blood pressure kit and they said it was in the corner, exactly where the silver balls were coming from, so I knew the mercury is where that came from," realized Frater.

On Monday, her children played with the machine that measures blood pressure. They even managed to take the mercury inside it out and then it spread to the six people staying at the house, even the dog, who were all decontaminated Tuesday afternoon.

"People had different levels and there's a critical level and myself and the dog have the most levels," said Frater.

A special company from Nicholasville has to clean-up the house that's off limits to Frater and her family, at least for now.

The mercury was contained to this house so no one else in the neighborhood had to be evacuated.

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