Fire officials say a Massachusetts apartment building has been deemed uninhabitable after a man mistook dental fillings for silver, melted them and caused mercury poisoning.
Fall River District Fire Chief Michael Clark said the 51-year-old resident melted the fillings Jan. 25 and went to the hospital three days later. Initially, doctors couldn’t understand what made him ill.
Toxic levels of mercury were discovered when emergency officials responded to the building Saturday, after a 17-year-old girl who lives there became ill. She tested positive for mercury and was transported to a Rhode Island hospital.
The unidentified culprit is the grandson of a dentist who tried to melt a bag of unused fillings on a stovetop. WJAR reports that he believed the fillings contained silver that he could convert to cash.
The man’s girlfriend, who wishes to remain anonymous, told NBC the couple had lost their truck and “needed another vehicle.” The couple’s dog died the next day, followed by her three cats.
She added that the man later seemed confused when he used a water bottle as if it was a cellphone.
“Hopefully he will completely pull through this,” she said. “I know he’s going to be completely devastated with everything that’s happened due to an accident.”
Officials said every resident of the building was tested for mercury.
— with a file from The Associated Press