Detroit teen recovering from mercury poisoning - FOX 32 News Chicago

Detroit teen recovering from mercury poisoning after spill at home

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Jamile Carter, 17, was diagnosed with mercury poisoning in January. Jamile Carter, 17, was diagnosed with mercury poisoning in January.
DETROIT (WJBK) -

Tasha Brown says some mercury spilled in her home last year, and it was cleaned it up using her vacuum. Now her son has mercury poisoning and she learns that, in addition to the improper handling of the spill, it may not have been reported properly either.

Brown says the spill happened in November of 2013 after her younger son found mercury in an old garage. He accidentally spilled some in his older brother's room, and also brought it to school in a plastic bag to show a science teacher.

Officials say the school was put on lockdown and Hazmat, police and fire were called. After no exposure, the lockdown was lifted, and Brown says Hazmat then came to her home.

"They came in. They had just the blue gloves ... and they tried to clean it up with tape and little pieces of cardboard, and then they asked me did I have a vacuum. I said yes. They used my vacuum and vacuumed it up and told me it was clear," Brown tells FOX 2's Erika Erickson.

Brown says she thought the mercury was gone. Then her 17-year-old son, Jamile Carter, became extremely ill a month later.

"Body aching and nerves, like, my body was twitching, and I was sweating," Carter remembers. He also experienced burns and vision loss.

He was rushed to the hospital and later diagnosed in January with mercury poisoning.

Brown says the EPA and Health Department cleaned and stripped her home, but says now no one is taking responsibility for the clean-up back in November.

"They say they never came to my house; they never used my vacuum," Brown says.

Detroit Fire Marshall Robin Eagan says that is not the way mercury is cleaned up, and Detroit Fire and Hazmat do not have a record of ever visiting Brown's home. Brown insists a Hazmat crew did visit the home.

"It was wrong for them to do that, and they knew that they [weren't] supposed to use our vacuum," says Carter.

Carter says he is finally starting to feel better.

LINK: Click here to hear more about mercury releases and spills

The EPA says exposures to mercury can affect the human nervous system and harm the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs and immune system.

Common symptoms of mercury poisoning include burning, itching and/or pain. You may also notice skin discoloration in your cheeks, fingertips and toes. Your skin could even start shredding.

Other symptoms include swelling, profuse sweating, increased salivation and high blood pressure.

In children you may notice red cheeks and lips, hair loss and/or rashes. They could also experience a loss of speech and/or increased sensitivity to light.

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