Environmental crews called to clean up after thermostat breaks

Clarksville, IN - By Marisela Burgos - bio | email

CLARKSVILLE, IN (WAVE) - A Clarksville woman contacted WAVE 3 for help after her daughter accidentally broke a thermostat containing mercury in their apartment. Environmental clean-up crews spent the day, trying to lower the levels of mercury, but the landlord has already started eviction proceedings against the tenant.

Crystal Green says her daughter knocked caused a thermostat to break when she moved a couch. The mercury spilled out onto the floor. Green says she tried to vacuum up the mess, but Clark County health officials say that was the worst thing she could have done in the situation. They say the vacuum caused the mercury to vaporize and spread throughout the apartment.

Doug Dentfield with the Clark County Health Department says many of the items inside Green's apartment were a total loss because they were contaminated.

"I don't want to put my family at risk to save a pillow - that's foolish," Green said.

Green says it's great that some of her belongings were saved, but now she has no place to put them since she'll soon be homeless.

Green says she was told to move two days after the accident, even though the health department hopes the mercury levels will be at acceptable levels.

She admits she didn't get renter's insurance like her lease required and that could be the reason why she is being evicted.

The landlord would not comment on green's circumstances when we approached her this afternoon.

Health Department officials say this could happen to anyone since many homes have thermostats that contain mercury. The new environmentally friendly, energy saving light bulbs also contain small amounts of mercury, so care should be taken when handling those.

If you do spill mercury, contact the fire department immediately.

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