Thomas County family afflicted with mercury poisoning

Thomas County family afflicted with mercury poisoning
Thomas County family afflicted with mercury poisoning
Posted at 8:56 PM, Aug 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-08 22:46:02-04

THOMAS CO., GA (WALB) - A Thomas County family is recovering in Macon after they were poisoned by mercury.

Doctors said the five came in contact with it last month, but just recently started showing signs. 

The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) has gotten involved in the incident. 

The children in the family were first exposed to liquid mercury about two weeks ago while at a friend's house. The family started showing symptoms earlier in August. 

The EPA has been at the family's residence on Myrick Road in Thomas County for four days as of Wednesday.

EPA officials said the meter they use to detect mercury levels goes to 100,000 nanograms.

On their first day of detecting, the family's house had more than the meter could read.

All of the carpet and furniture was removed, along with most of the family's belongings.

Chris Russell with the EPA said when they first arrived, they surveyed the outside of the house first.

"What I did, is screen the outside to see if there was any vapors going out that could affect any individuals. That is very rare for that to happen, but I wanted to make sure the neighbors weren't being infected," said Russell.

There were no signs of mercury on the outside, so EPA went inside and the levels were extremely high, according to Russell. 

To get rid of the mercury, the carpet was ripped out and all the furniture and clothes were removed. 

Russell said the family was able to salvage almost all the furniture and about half of all their clothes.

"We removed the mercury, we removed the items, we're heating and venting," Russell said. "You may hear the noise in the background. That's the heating and venting process. We will do samplings this afternoon, confirmation sampling to make sure the levels are down to where the family can come back in." 

On Wednesday, the levels were around 1,200.

After EPA collected all the data, the levels dropped to under 800.

Russell said the level needs to be at or below 1,000 to be considered safe.

"We got a few ounces out, and the rest is treating the vapors," said Russell. 

The side effects of mercury can be serious, officials said. 

Joey Castillo, the biological father of the three kid afflicted with the poisoning, said his oldest daughter has the worst symptoms.

Castillo said Wednesday she is finally making progress and is learning to walk again,

"It can affect our brain, your central nervous system, and your organs. So, it gets in and has that adverse effect on them," said Russell.

Ashley Castillo, the mother, started a page to help with the EPA costs and upcoming hospital bills.

Russell said Wednesday the levels of mercury began rising again, displacing the family for another day. 

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