Vol. 57 / No. 44
An uncontrolled or illegal release, or threatened release, of one or more hazardous substances in a quantity sufficient to require removal, cleanup, or
neutralization according to federal, state, or local law.
TABLE 1. Number and percentage of chemical incidents* in elementary and secondary schools, associated injury, and ordered evacuation, by contributing factor — Hazardous Substances Emergency Events Surveillance system, 15 states, 2002–2007
Mace or pepper spray¶
TABLE 2. Number and percentage of specic chemicals released in elementary and secondary schools, and associated injury and ordered evacuation, by type of chemical — Hazardous Substances Emergency Events Surveillance system, 15 states, 2002–2007
Type of chemical*
* Only chemicals reported for 10 or more school incidents are specied. Releases of specied chemical, divided by total (467); percentage rounded. Percentage of releases for specied chemical; percentage rounded. Includes 2-chloroacetophenone. More than one type of chemical was released in some of the 423 school incidents. † § ¶ **
Releases with injury
Releases with ordered evacuation
associated with mercury were fully understood, mercury was commonly used in thermometers, sphygmomanometers, and barometers and was used in science experiments in schools. Eleven states (Indiana, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Wisconsin) have enacted legislation that bans or requires reduced use of mercury in schools (4). HSEES data indicate, however, that mercury is still present in many schools and spills continue to cause school lockdowns, danger- ous exposures, and costly cleanups.
Like an earlier analysis of 1993–1998 HSEES data (5), this analysis for 2002–2007 indicates that most school-related chemi- cal incidents continue to be the result of mistakes in the handling or use of a substance. ese data suggest school staff members might benefit from additional training on how to use and handle hazardous chemicals to reduce injuries occurring at schools.
HSEES data are used to guide intervention strategies to reduce the occurrence of chemical incidents and subsequent injuries (2). For example, data from HSEES indicating that mercury is the most commonly reported chemical released in school chemical incidents have been used to actively promote
the removal of mercury-containing equipment from schools. New York state has developed information resources to guide proper cleanup of mercury spills, thereby reducing the risk for exposure and the on-site costs associated with cleanup.* ese resources, and others, are available to all states. e School Chemical and Laboratory Safety Guide,† from CDC, also is a valuable resource that provides teachers with information to prevent or minimize harmful exposures in high school chem- istry laboratories. Reducing unnecessary hazardous substances in schools, along with proper labeling and education on the proper use of potentially dangerous substances, is imperative to ensure school safety.
e findings in this report are subject to at least three limita-
tions. First, reporting of events to HSEES is not mandatory, and reporting sources vary among the states participating in HSEES. erefore, some school events likely are not reported, and reporting of school events to HSEES might be more com- plete for some states than for others. Second, the definition of
Available at http://www.health.state.ny.us/environmental/chemicals/hsees/
Available at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2007-107.