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New York Bans Mercury-Containing Flooring In Schools

Alan Levine

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation prohibiting the installation of flooring that contains mercury in schools. That’s after the closure of several Long Island school facilities earlier this year.

In the 1960s, many manufacturers began to include mercury in their rubberlike gym floor products to keep them rubbery longer. The practice continues to this day.

Health officials are concerned that as time goes on the mercury vaporizes. The colorless, odorless gas can affect brain function and development in children.    

Low levels of mercury vapor were detected earlier this year in Amityville and Merrick schools. Miller Place High School discovered high levels of mercury vapors during renovations of its gymnasium. 

The state had forced all schools in New York to take an inventory of their rubberlike gym floors.

Several school districts had to shut down their facilities until the old floors were removed. 

The law takes effect immediately and applies to installations in 2021.

A native Long Islander, J.D. is WSHU's managing editor. He also hosts the climate podcast Higher Ground. J.D. reports for public radio stations across the Northeast, is a journalism educator and proud SPJ member.