Mercury in track: But is UVA's Lannigan overhaul dangerous?

Test results on samples from the University of Virginia's Lannigan Field track surfaces indicate eye-popping mercury levels as much as 33,000 times the government standards.

What the government may not know is whether such levels of the heavy metal pose any risks to runners or to the construction workers removing the surfaces in the course of the spiffy $5- to $7-million upgrade of the facility located on Copeley Road.

"Whether you believe it's toxic or not, federal standards say it needs to be incinerated," says Andy Hord, president of Precision Sports Surfaces Inc., one of the companies that unsuccessfully bid on the makeover of the once distinctively blue track.

Hord submitted three samples from the track for mercury testing. One from the original 1971 track surface, which includes three subsequent resurfacings, shows mercury levels at 100 parts per million. EPA standards for incineration, say Hord, are .003ppm.

"This stuff is FULL OF MERCURY," Hord writes in an email to UVA. "Like 33,000 times the [Resource Conservation and Recovery Act] standard."

While a 1994 surface shows negligible amounts of mercury, a sample associated with a 2004 resurfacing measured at a level of 60ppm, which is 20,000 times the standard.

The University's own testing of the track found no mercury, according to UVA spokeswoman Carol Wood. Hord contends that the section of track UVA tested came from a 2002 addition on the far side of the track that doesn't adequately reflect the facility's surfaces.

"We certainly don't want to take any chances, so this afternoon we started another round of testing," says Wood in a May 23 email to a reporter.

"The old surface has already been pulled up and is in rolls at the edge of the track," says Wood. "Barton Malow, the contractor, has been directed to leave the rolls on site until we receive the results of the new test in two to three days. The outcome of this new test will determine the exact nature of how to dispose of the material."

The EPA has little information on mercury hazards for runners– or surface removers– in track surfaces; and the few studies that have been done are contradictory, says an EPA spokesman, who says it's agency policy that his name not be used.

"We don't have any evidence that it is [hazardous]," says the anonymous EPA guy. "It's probably like lead, bound up in a chemical compound. It's not a volatile compound."

Yet he acknowledges, "We don't think it's an issue, but we don't have any evidence."

Mercury exposure comes from inhalation, ingestion, or skin absorption, says Dwight Flammia, public health toxicologist for the Virginia Department of Public Health. He's seen no cases of runners mad as hatters from mercury poisoning. "It's the exposure, not the chemical being present," says Flammia.

Just because mercury is present in material doesn't mean it will leach into a landfill, especially if it's immobilized, according to UVA's director of environmental health and safety Ralph Allen. The university is doing another test to see whether the mercury dissolves into solutions and will get into groundwater, says Allen.

"If you want to dispose of mercury, it's hazardous; if a material has mercury in it, it's not hazardous unless it fails this test," Allen explains. "We'll know Thursday whether this is leachable mercury."

Lannigan Field closed May 9 for its major overhaul, bolstered by a $5 million pledge from Amy Mitchell Griffin, Class of 1998. It's expected to reopen in time for the 2012 ACC Track and Field Championships.

The track became so popular with locals that last year the University booted them off during peak practice times so they wouldn't be mowed down by high-speed sprinters or bonked by a shot put.

Lannigan Field was a peripheral location in a fatality not linked to mercury: Morgan Harrington was seen in a parking lot there October 17, 2009, before heading to nearby Copeley Road Bridge, the last place she was seen alive.


The University's own testing of the track found no mercury, according to UVA spokeswoman Carol Wood

and then:

The university is doing another test to see whether the mercury dissolves into solutions and will get into groundwater, says Allen.

What are they doing the second test on? The mercury they say doesn't exist?
Let me guess what the result are going to be...

The local government is adding a mix of hundreds of deadly toxic volatile metals, chemicals , halides and radionucleides including uranium to the water. The Uranium comes from underground when they mine the phosphate rock as does the fluoride, making the phosphate rock byproducts toxic waste, costly to dispose of in a landfill so they use it to scrub smokestacks clean to get some extra use (fluoride is extremely corrosive) and some extra toxic sludge (fluoride leaches all the gunk out of the coal smoke, but not in China because the cost of doing so is not economical and their smoke just glides on the jetstream to the U.S. before it settles, which Amy Goodman then uses as an excuse to further destroy the coal industry in the United States). Then, it's extra toxic waste. So they add it to your water, uranium and all, and tell you it's good for your teeth while the I.Q.'s drop, the cancer rate rises, the testosterone levels drop, the arthritis rises, the test scores drop, the cavaties and dental fluorosis increase. I could go on but the point is when is the Hook gonna do a story about the uranium and radium (not to mention sodium fluoride, much deadlier than calcium fluoride) in the water thanks to the local government wanting that Federal funding more than they want to stop poisoning the public?


I see you took my advice and wrote in all caps this time. SOOOOO much more credible like that. Thanks, your is a REALLY important message and this will show the skeptics for sure.

sounds like good ole UVA is covering up something ,doesn't it? they test it and find nothing? then an outside firm fine toxic levels. Lets see the EPA test something and see what UVA has to say then . Oh how the mighty will fall.

Deleted by moderator.

Dear Editors at 'The Hook':
Really? Keep up this kind of sensational journalism and you might as well just call yourself a tabloid. In fact, why don't you change your name to "Morgan Harrington Times" and be honest with yourself?

Deleted by moderator.

UVA professor of Chemistry

"When we merged the two series of test the results were astonishing the chart greatly resembled a hockey stick"

Mercury is in vaccines too, and when injected it goes straight to the brain, bypassing the kidneys and liver. It's especially devastating to children's brains. They say they've taken it out but they've increased it massively! The vaccines are also full of aluminum, cow puss, caterpillar eggs and all sorts of adjuvants to fry your kid's brains on purpose! But don't worry, it's so horrible that it will be easy to go into denial about it. And girls are tougher biologically than men so their brains won't be quite as devastated as the boys, so women will hate their husbands and boyfriends because they're stupider then them, and try to control them causing couples to fight with each other which is what they want too because then they can CPS the kids and pump them full of adderall and risperdal, and sell the blue eyed, blonde haired ones for millions on the black market!

idontknowanythi... , since you trust the EPA (the same agency that knew the asbestos at ground zero was deadly and told the workers the air was safe to breathe anyway), did you know the the EPA union of scientists wrote a letter in 2005 to the head of the EPA urging an immediate moratorium on the practice of water fluoridation in the United States based on the fact that any fluoride benefit to teeth is topical, not systemic, and also because of the "bone cancer cover up"? It's not just fluoride, it's fluosilicic acid full of uranium and heavy metals. Literal toxic waste. If I came over to your glass of water at a restaurant and added a drop of something from a vat with skull and crossbones on it labelled "toxic waste" you'd probably deck me out or call the police. But the city and county governments working together add it not only to your glass of water, but your kids glass of water and the water you and they bathe in. (It's massively absorbed through the skin). Nothing to be skeptical about here. It's all factual information. But if you admitted it to yourself, you'd obviously feel the need to do something like warn people about it. And just imagine what they would think of you and say about you if you did. Heck, the government might even come after you! Better not admit it like the EPA. Better just crack rabies jokes.

John Walton Giuliano Whos talking about fluoride????? Who also said that I trust the EPA..
It was "W" who told the EPA to say ground 0 was safe so go after the Bush crime family for that one . The point I was makeing was that UVA is covering up something as they seem to do alot of just because theyre UVA.

I think the key to this story is: "president of Precision Sports Surfaces Inc., one of the companies that unsuccessfully bid on the makeover of the once distinctively blue track." I think there is a bit of sour grapes here. He didn't get chosen for the job, no wonder he's upset.

Also, I question the legality of his tests.

The comments on this one are more fun than a 1960's carnival freak show. Can you folks wear your tinfoil hats in public so we can avoid you more easily?



Pete, you're not on the same path as me, you're not headed in the same direction as I am, you're not on the same page as I am, you're not even reading from the same book. No need to avoid me, you'll never see my face.

And whippedcream, it was Christine Todd Whitman who lied about the air being safe, not "W".

Pete, if what JWG wrote is true, then you are a lucky fellow.

cookieJar, everything I write is true.

John Walton Giuliano "W " directed her to do so. Just look it up.

You must also be the smartest guy in the world if everything you write is true!!??!?!?!

Can I get you autograph Mr. Brainiac

As for wanting to see your face NO THANKS

And this fluoride thing you don't have to worry It doesn't affect people with dentures

"Whether you BELIEVE it's toxic or not?" It's not a matter of belief, but of fact. Running on the track would certainly wear some of the mercury into the air and environment every time it's used. There are no safe levels of mercury, and so it's best not to take chances. It's not good for the athletes to inhale, or for the people who use the land after the track is gone. Mercury is the most toxic non-radioactive substance known to man, comparable to lead but its brain damage manifests in a slightly different way. Amazing they'd let it go this long.

Toxicity is highly dependent on what form the mercury is in. There is a big difference between elemental (i.e. pure metal) mercury and a molecule in which one of the atoms is mercury. The latter is much, much less bio-available. Many other elements are similiar. Elemental sodium, for example, is explosive on contact with water and and will burn you severely if you touch it. In a compound with chlorine, it's just table salt. If the track mercury turns out to be locked up in a compound ( what it's sounds like they are testing for) then it's not that big a deal.

Just like it's not a big deal when they "lock it up" in a compound and put it in your teeth to slowly leach out as methylmercury whenever you drink a hot beverage or eat a hot meal. It's no wonder to me why they let it go on so long. The people in charge want to bombard you with as much toxic material as possible to dumb you down, sterilize you, and kill you off just as soon as they've milked you dry through your health care expenses and you no longer are profitable to them! They probably even added the mercury on purpose. Ha ha! As for the fluoride, drink it up, it's obviously too late to help you, so you're part of the problem, not the solution! I feel sorry for your kids if you have kids, however.

@ JWG I don't believe in conspiracies, the truth is bad enough. Get a life, please...

I'm not the one putting poison in the water, in the air, in the food, but I'm the one everyone wants to go away because I'm telling you about it all! That's one messed up logic there, folks. It's not that you don't believe in conspiracies, it's that you don't feel like you have any power to do anything about it or you're afraid people will tell you to get a life if you weild your incredible power to change things. I'm trying to help make the world a much better place, which is what it will be once enough people wake up and take action instead of pretending it's not going on when it's right out in the open. If you won't listen to me listen to Alex Jones and all the thousands of intelligence experts, scientists, veterans, and activists, etc. he has interviewed.

Ah, the winged footed Mercury on a track................oh, the humanity!

Ah, the winged footed Mercury on a track................oh, the humanity!

"And whippedcream, it was Christine Todd Whitman who lied about the air being safe, not "W"." -

Sorry Bud, but it was indeed the Bush Whitehouse that told Whitman to change the report.
Now there are 1000 dead First Responders.

September 2003 statement of nineteen EPA union local heads reads, "Little did the Civil Service expect that their professional work would be subverted by political pressure applied by the White House. […] These workers reported to senior EPA officials their best estimate of the risks, and they expected those estimates and the accompanying recommendations for protective measures to be released in a timely manner to those who needed the information. The public was not informed of all [of these] health risks. This information was withheld [from the public] under orders of the White House. [Instead], the Bush White House had information released, drafted by political appointees, that it knew to contradict the scientific facts. It misinformed. And many rescue workers and citizens suffered. -

As death toll of 9/11 responders nears 1,000, pols want autopsy standards to pinpoint causes:

Good to know the government can still play good cop bad cop and people will still fall for it. The EPA agency, Christine Todd Whitman was the person who lied. I guess every lie that any person under the Bush administration told was Bush's fault too, according to these mental gymnasts. The EPA wasn't created to protect the evironment, it was created to allow the government manage the destruction of the environment while giving idiots a sense of well-being and fresh air. Amy Goodman is a talented Ford Foundation propagandist, listen to Alex Jones if you want real news and analysis.

Oh, I almost forgot. Guess who's mandating the phased elimination of incandescent light bulbs and replacement with mercury-filled compact fluorescents, which if broken, require you to leave your house for three days and treat the break site like a hazmat area if you want to avoid mercury poisoning? The only natural light you'll be seeing after the sun sets is going to be in a beer can or from the moon. Get used to it, and don't forget to thank the EPA.

Shallel- and it was the illustrious John Lindsey who, as Mayor of NYC, oversaw all the graft and corruption that became the World Trade center north and south towers.

He backed up shoddy union workmanship and standards to the point that it was difficult at best to get a CO's for the South Tower after the North Tower showed so many problems that it was suggested at one time that it be condemed.

Blame it on Bush? Heck, why not............give it a rest.

Guess that shoddy union workmanship couldn't withstand demolition grade thermite.

Sorry to pull this off topic. I'll just say that the EPA is a useless bureaucracy. So is the FDA. Toxins, especially from China are in most of the products we use today and they do nothing. I found, through testing, lead paint masquerading as "chrome plaiting" on a Krupps espresso machine, flaking into my cup. Chrissy Whitman should be in jail with Bush, Rice, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Obama, Giuliani, and C'ville's own Philip Zelikow, who wrote the script for 9/11.
The Twin Towers were anything but shoddily built. Sure they had toxic asbestos problems, but I watched them being built and they were probably the strongest buildings ever constructed since Cheops' Pyramid. Thermite is a limited hangout, it may have been present, but cannot explain the Towers' dissolving into dust in ten seconds. Really.

John Walton Giuliano Man Get Off The Pipe Will Ya !!!!!!