Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Florida School Goes into Lockdown, Calls Hazmat Team to Safely Remove — Thermometer?

Mercury Laboratory Thermometer

Mercury Laboratory Thermometer

You can’t ever be too careful or too ridiculous when is comes to the safety of our children — or can you? The Seminole High School in Pinellas County Florida may have just reset the standard for outlandish overreaction by a school. On the morning of December 4, 2012, according to the Sheriff’s Department, students were given an assignment to bring to school something from the Periodic Table of Elements. Seems simple enough, though the Periodic Table does contain some dangerous elements: Arsenic, and radium to name a couple. One student, who didn’t read the assignment instructions carefully, decided to bring in mercury, which is a heavy metal, toxic if ingested, but safely used in everyday applications like fluorescent lights, switches in vending machines and the humble thermometer, which is what one boy brought to school. In their defense school officials had told the students not to bring in certain toxic elements, mercury included, but no sane person could have guessed what happened next.

As everyone’s Period Table elements were checked at the door and staff realized that there was indeed a thermometer in their midst, they immediately put the school into lockdown. A hazmat crew was brought in as a precaution, so that the offending device could be removed safely. No word on what consequences, academic or disciplinary, the student will have to face in the near future.

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