The Quicksilver Mess

Intrigued by a stash of mercury, two Arkansas teens poison themselves and contaminate their town

Remember the illicit thrill of cracking open a thermometer and pouring out the contents, marveling at the slippery weight of the shimmering puddle in your palm? Imagine, then, the excitement of two Arkansas teenagers when they found some 40 lbs. of the stuff--pure mercury--in an abandoned factory where it had been used to make neon lights. They and their friends dipped their hands and arms into it. They poured it on their bedroom floors to see it wobble and flow. They showed it off at school and handed it out in jars and vials. One youth dipped a cigarette in it...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!