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Next Chapter for Mercury-Hunting Dog and MN Scientist

Clancy was a lab/hound mix trained to sniff out mercury in schools. (MPCA)
Clancy was a lab/hound mix trained to sniff out mercury in schools. (MPCA)
December 5, 2017

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Hamline University gave its 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award to Carol Hubbard, who has spent most of her career exposing mercury hazards for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

From 2001 to 2009, Hubbard worked with Clancy the mercury-sniffing dog. Their unique partnership drew national acclaim and Hubbard marvels at his effectiveness.

"He could do a room more quickly than I could," she says. "He was a real valuable tool in getting mercury out of schools."

Clancy was a black lab/hound mix trained by the St. Paul Police Department to sit and wait whenever he got a whiff of mercury vapor. That way he wouldn't get closer and inhale the dangerous vapors himself. Hubbard plans to retire early next year and write a children's book about her work with Clancy.

Clancy and Hubbard found mercury in closets, cabinets, and chemistry classrooms. Hubbard says students loved to watch them work and learned about environmental toxins while they did. She says she and Clancy got rid of about 2,000 pounds of mercury, an average of 2 pounds per school.

Minnesota banned mercury in schools in 2009, but Hubbard says mercury vapor may still be present in, for example, gym floors.

"And that can be dangerous," she warns. "That can cause damage to your brain, central nervous system, to your kidneys. So we're concerned about kids being exposed to mercury vapor."

Hubbard is currently concentrating on exposing the presence of mercury in skin-lightening creams sold mainly in immigrant markets, which she says is a serious problem.

Laurie Stern, Public News Service - MN