FALL RIVER, Mass. - An entire apartment building in Fall River is deemed unlivable after a man allegedly tried to melt down teeth fillings that were filled with mercury. Two people are hospitalized in relation to that incident and other residents have been told they cannot live in their apartments until further notice.
There's now caution tape around the whole apartment building and an orange sign on the door that reads "Uninhabitable."
After Saturday's hazmat situation, the building inspector deemed the building uninhabitable. The fire department was there for hours over the weekend, but it turns out the situation is connected to something that happened weeks ago.
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According to district fire Chief Michael Clark, the mercury reading was 106. To put that in perspective, he says if a mercury thermometer broke, the reading would likely be in the single digits.
The mercury came from old tooth fillings. Clark says a 51-year-old man was burning them back on Jan. 25, likely trying to get what he thought was silver from them, not knowing it was actually mercury.
According to investigators, the man had gotten the old fillings from his grandfather, who was a dentist. The man was hospitalized Jan. 28 after feeling sick and has been there ever since. "It was really strange the way that it happened, like I said, this started on Jan. 25 and we finally got the call to go down because nobody, they didn't realize what was happening," Clark told WPRI.
Since then, a dog and two cats from the apartment have died. Clark says the man's girlfriend called the apartment management company, which then called the fire department. "There were elevated levels in the apartment and in the hallway and near the outer doors of the upper floor apartments, too," said Clark.
No one from the fire department tested positive for mercury but a 17-year-old girl who was in the apartment did. "She seemed to be in fine shape, but she was exposed to mercury so they had to test her further," said Clark.