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A Closer Look At Mercury

It's the chemical element that closed down a local junior high for over two weeks...We're talking about Mercury!
It's silver, it's shiny, it's fun.

But it's also dangerous.

I'm talking about Mercury.

And you only need a small amout of it to cause a large haz-mat situation.

An ounce of this chemical cost Ector County ISD almost nine-hundred thousand dollars.

The district says, a student brought the element to school in a plastic water bottle that he found in an alley.

A number of students played with the element, with it quickly spreading around campus.

"It tends to cling to just about anything, so if you get it on you, then you're going to carry it with you everywhere you go," said Chemistry Professor Nichole Jackson.

I spent some time with Nichole Jackson, the Chair of the Science Department at Odessa College, and she tells me why kids find this fascinating.

"Mercury is a very cool element, fun things you can do with it, you can swirl it around, see how it also tends to make little balls and separates from each other. Kids are so fascinated by it because it's one of those unique elements that you think is a metal and then it's also a liquid and then you can do all kinds of things with it," said Jackson.

It might be entertaining but Jackson points out the safety measures that should be taken first.

"If you're going to have to deal with Mercury then you need to also make sure that you protect yourself by wearing gloves," said Jackson.

Jackson also told me what you shouldn't do when it comes to getting rid of the element.

"You shouldn't just dump it in the trash or down the drain," said Jackson.
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