ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- Some treasured heirlooms may hold a hidden hazard.
A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that toxic mercury found in some antiques can leak, particularly as seals age or when the items are moved. Mirrors may be backed with mercury and tin; clock pendulums might be weighted with vials of mercury; old barometers, thermometers and lamps have mercury in the base for ballast.
Exposure to high levels of mercury can cause damage to the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs and immune system.
Doctor Wanda Lizak Wells of the New York state Department of Health is co-author of the C-D-C study. She suggests getting professional help even if a few ounces spill from an old barometer.
The study highlighted six cases from 2000 through 2006 in New York state.