Gyms at 3 Long Island schools closed due to mercury vapor

MERRICK, Nassau County (WABC) -- Three schools on Long Island have shut down parts of their school buildings because of mercury vapor in the air.

A recreational area at Norman J. Levy Lakeside School in Merrick has been closed off to students, as have the gymnasiums at Miller Place High School and Park Avenue Memorial Elementary School in Amityville.

School district officials have said mercury vapor has been detected in those areas but in low levels and parents should not be concerned.

Mercury vapor is most dangerous when inhaled and can cause learning disorders, neurological damage and anxiety.

"It's serious. It's a heavy metal and it should not be in schools," said Adrienne Esposito with Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

Long Island Senator Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) has introduced a bill that would set a standard for how much mercury is allowed in school buildings. It's based upon a level set by schools in Minnesota.

"It's time we set a standard so schools know what they should be worried out and what they deem safe," Kaminsky said.

Kaminsky's bill also bans the future installation of floors containing mercury in schools.

The flooring in the gym at Park Avenue Elementary School has been removed, but the area still remains closed to students because levels of mercury vapor were still detected. It's believed the vapor may be coming from the concrete.

"The gymnasium will remain unoccupied and isolated while remediation plans for the concrete slab are developed," said Mary Kelly, the Superintendent of the Amityville School District, in a letter to parents.

The gym at Miller Place High School remains closed.

"The health and safety of our students, faculty and all who visit our schools remains our top priority," said Marianne Cartisano, the Superintendent of the Miller Place School District, in a letter to parents, "As we move forward with this process, we will keep the community informed accordingly."

At Levy Lakeside School, a recreational area known as the Cubs Cave is closed to students.

The Superintendent of the Merrick School District, Dominick Palma, said in a statement, "The Board of Education and I are very uncomfortable with any level of mercury vapor within our schools. Negative air pressure has been introduced to the space by an environmental management company to assure no vapor enters other spaces within the school."

----------
* More Long Island news
* Send us a news tip
* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts
* Follow us on YouTube
Copyright © 2019 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.