Thursday, October 01, 2009

Chemical odor sickens 18 students at Glen Burnie school Substance used for roof work cited as cause; classes resume after building ventilated

A Glen Burnie middle school was evacuated and 18 children were taken to hospitals after staff detected a strong chemical odor just as school started Wednesday morning, according to an Anne Arundel County schools spokesman.

Employees at Corkran Middle School noticed the smell about 8 a.m., said Bob Mosier, the spokesman. The school is undergoing renovations and workers making heating, ventilating and air-conditioning repairs on the roof were using a petroleum-based aluminum coating that is believed to have caused the odor, he said.

As the school was evacuated, some students began feeling nauseous and some vomited, according to Mosier. Emergency personnel took 11 students to Baltimore Washington Medical Center and seven others to Harbor Hospital, Mosier said.

The work on the roof was stopped, and classes resumed at 9:45 a.m. -- with the windows open -- after the odor dissipated, according to Mosier. Fire officials likened the smell to that of household paint.

The school system used an automated phone system to alert families of the school's 630 students about what happened. A letter will also be sent home with children, Mosier said.

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