Acid scare offers lessons in safety
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June 1, 2006
Reminder to review policies stems from Boston incident
Safety officers can use an acid exposure that happened outside of a Boston hospital as a chance to reaffirm hazardous safeguards.
On March 20, an apparent mishandling of a hazardous chemical at Boston Medical Center forced the evacuation of about 150 people from two of the center's buildings, plus more people from a nearby homeless shelter, according to The Boston Globe.
A hospital maintenance worker was exposed to residue from the chemical, peracetic acid, while disposing of its container, and this sparked the evacuation. He reportedly inhaled fumes, felt nauseated and dizzy, and complained of tingling in his hands-all effects of the acid-while taking an empty box to a trash compactor in front of the building, The Globe reported.
The worker received medical treatment, and soon after, authorities deemed the hospital and homeless shelter safe enough for people to reenter.
Initially, authorities said they knew the source of the scare, but at presstime, the investigation remained open and neither the hospital nor the Boston Fire Department, which responded to the spill, would release further information.
Peracetic acid, commonly used to sterilize surgical equipment, has received a "highly dangerous chemicals" designation from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (see the related story below for more details about peracetic acid).