Fumes Force Evacuation Of Middle School
Posted November 18, 1999
VANDER — Chemical fumes forced students out of Mac Williams Middle School on Friday.
The material Eurocare, a chemical sealant, was spread on the concrete floor in the school's mechanical room. The odor spread throughout the school's duct system, and made several students and staff members sick.
Students said the chemical smelled like paint, and complained of headaches, nausea and dizziness.
Eurocare is made by the Euclid Chemical Company. They say inhaling the chemical may cause slight irritation. In emergencies, the company suggests: move to fresh air.
All students at the middle school were evacuated, and later taken next door to Cape Fear High School.
Emergency crews checked over several children with symptoms. More than 30 students were transported to the hospital for further treatment.
Associate superintendent Tim Kinlaw says Eurocare is not a dangerous chemical, if used properly.
"The chemical should not have been applied in a mechanical room with students in the adjacent area," Kinlaw said.
Firefighters used fans to air out the school. Officials say Nortex Construction, the general contractor that was doing the work, did not tell the school system that the application would be done during the school day.
Parents, including Sharon Smith, were outraged.
"Think about the children who have asthma or upper respiratory problems," Smith said. "I cannot imagine what it was like for those kids."
"It was a strong smell, a very strong smell," Smith said.
A letter was sent home with students, advising parents to watch their children over the weekend. If any students have any headaches or respiratory discomfort, they should go to the doctor immediately.
The fire department labelled the school as safe, and the school will reopen on Monday.