Dye spill sends 56 at school to hospital

May 14, 1994|By Ed Brandt | Ed Brandt,Sun Staff Writer Sun staff writer Michael James contributed to this article.

Fifty students at Riverview Elementary School in Lansdowne were treated yesterday for minor eye and skin irritation at Sinai and Franklin Square hospitals after a small vial of laboratory dye was spilled by a student in the cafeteria.

Six adults, including the principal and an assistant principal, also received treatment.

The school, at Kessler and Hollins Ferry roads, was evacuated after the 2 p.m. incident.

The conditions of those affected were not considered serious, and most were treated and released after being given sandwiches and sodas by the hospitals.

Michael Sullivan, spokesman for the state Department of the Environment, said a custodian tried to clean up the spilled powdered substance -- sodium salt hydrate -- with a damp mop. The combination of the chemical and water created an irritating ammonialike vapor.

Department hazardous materials crews responded to the spill.

Barry Williams, spokesman for the Baltimore County school system, said a fifth-grader brought the substance, which was being used in a classroom experiment, to the cafeteria.

Those affected were taken to the hospitals by county Fire Department ambulances.

Twenty-eight students and five adults were brought to Sinai Hospital, spokesman Paul Umansky said.

Holly Duggan, a spokeswoman for Franklin Square Hospital, said 22 students and a teacher were treated there for eye irritation and nausea. All were released, Ms. Duggan said.

Each of the hospitals has a room set aside for anyone exposed to hazardous material.

"We have them disrobe, and they are washed and examined by our staff," Mr. Umansky said.

"Some of the students walked through the substance, which had a strong ammonia smell, and carried it to other areas," Mr. Williams said. "I think some hysteria developed, and

ambulances were immediately called by the Riverview staff."

Among the adults taken to Sinai were Riverview Principal Thomas "Mick" Small and Assistant Principal Dot Schissler.

Both were treated and released.

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