A broken thermometer and a report of spilled mercury drew Lakeville firefighters to a Hemlock Shores Road home on Sunday afternoon.

A Tier 1 HazMat response was requested, and members of the District 1 Response Team arrived. Technicians utilized a device to detect any mercury vapor on the body and clothes of the resident, but found none. The person then waited inside their vehicle, the Lakeville Fire Department said on Facebook.

Responders entered the home with protective equipment and conducted an assessment. They did find unsafe levels of mercury vapor present in the house. The team then used used sponges, a vacuum, and ventilation to remove all mercury and fumes. Efforts continued until there was no trace of mercury vapor in the home.

Lakeville Health Agent Ed Cullen responded to the scene. After consulting with first responders, Cullen determined that the home was safe to be inhabited again.

Mercury is a toxic substance that was formerly used in thermometers. Inhaling mercury vapor can harm the human nervous, digestive and immune systems, lungs and kidneys.  Mercury ingestion may be fatal in higher doses.

The fire department said people who still own mercury thermometers should stop using them, store them in a protective container, and be on the lookout for household hazardous waste collection events. People should never put mercury thermometers in the trash or let mercury go down the drain. Don't ever sweep or vacuum spilled mercury up. Never touch spilled mercury, and keep people and pets away.

If a spill does occur, it's best to open windows to ventilate the area and evacuate to a remote location and summon help, the department said.

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