12 students treated, high school closed after ammonia spill

October 05, 1994|By Mary Maushard | Mary Maushard,Sun Staff Writer

Twelve students were treated for minor ailments at area hospitals after an ammonia spill yesterday in a storage area at the Western School of Technology and Environmental Science in Catonsville.

The rest of the high school, which has about 700 students, was evacuated and later closed for the day, although the spill was contained in a small area.

Ten students were taken by ambulance to Sinai Hospital, where they were treated for eye, ear and nose irritations. All were released by midafternoon, said Sinai spokesman Paul Umansky.

Two students were treated at St. Agnes Hospital, one for an asthmatic reaction to the fumes, and released, said Charles Herndon, county school system spokesman.

Mr. Herndon said a Western science teacher was taking inventory of chemicals in a storage room when a 1-gallon glass jar of highly concentrated ammonia fell and broke. The ammonia is used for science experiments, he said.

Hazardous materials units from the Baltimore County Fire Department and the city responded to the accident at 9:20 a.m., as did six county medic units.

The students affected by the fumes were in a nearby bathroom, said Capt. Mark Hubbard of the county Fire Department. Other students in an adjacent classroom were examined by paramedics, but not treated.

Later in the morning, officials from the Maryland Department of the Environment took air samples but did not find any unsafe ammonia levels.

School officials decided to close school as a precaution, said Captain Hubbard. Most students had left the area by noon.

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