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DepEd starts probing mercury spill at Manila Science High School.

The Department of Education (Deped) has started investigating the mercury spill at the Manila Science High School (MSHS) while its teachers and students are undergoing screening and testing.

The agency also reminded schools nationwide to strictly adhere to the guidelines set for the safe handling, storage, and disposal of chemicals used in science laboratories.

DepEd's Manila Schools Divsion office is conducting the investigation and continuous monitoring of the health of the MSHS studenst, teachers, and other personnel who had been directly or indirectly exposed to the mercury leak.

Ponciano Menguito, DepEd National Capital Region (NCR) director, had submitted a report to Education Secretary Leonor Briones, saying that the screening and tests would be undertaken jointly by the East Avenue Medical Center and the Manila City Health Office (MCHO).

According to Menguito, two teachers and two students who had been exposed to the mercury leak had not shown symptoms of poisoning, which include nausea and difficulty in breathing.

Globecare, an industrial waste disposal specialist, was tapped for the cleanup at the school.

Other government agencies also conducted their own assessment of the incident - namely, the Department of Health (DOH), the Manila Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP).

In a report filed with the Manila Schools Division Office, MSHS principal Eva Nacion said that 60 milliliters of mercury from a Charles' Law apparatus spilled on the corridor of the science laboratory on March 18, which Science teachers immediately cleaned up.

It was only on March 19 that the incident was relayed to Nacion, prompting her to order on March 20 the isolation of the spill area as she sought the help of the DepEd Manila's health service and the MCHO. She also ordered the suspension of classes until the school has been cleared of spilled chemicals.

DepEd reminded schools nationwide of Order 48 Series of 2006 which prescribes safety measures in science laboratories and calls for the immediate reporting of accidents even without casualties.

It directs school to inform concerned agencies - including the DENR, the DOH, and the Department of Science and Technology - of an emergency in a science laboratory for expert management.

It further instructs science teachers and laboratory technicians to make sure students are aware of the dangers of exposure to chemicals and are duly trained in the safe handling of potentially toxic substances and the use of laboratory equipment.

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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Mar 25, 2017
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