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Officials Say Sanitation Workers Overcome By Chemicals

Reported by: Send eMail Kaylin Searles, Darrah Wilcox
Videographer: Kenney Barnette
Reported: Jul. 9, 2014 12:26 PM EDT
Updated: Jul. 9, 2014 5:10 PM EDT
Eyewitness News Photo
Eyewitness News Photo

Huntington , Cabell County , West Virginia

It was a scary morning for a pair of sanitation workers in Huntington. "When emergency responders arrived on scene these laborers were laying on the ground, they were nauseous, feeling sick," said Bryan Chambers, City of Huntington communications director

HAZMAT crews were called out to investigate what made those workers sick on their truck during their weekly route along Holswade Drive in Huntington. "You don't know what types of chemicals you're dealing with, you don't know what types of injuries you're dealing with, until you get on scene, you don't know whether the surrounding community's going to be impacted," said Chambers.

Fire Chief Carl Eastham suited up and found what he believed was the answer. "We surmised that it is most likely an event with phosgene gas which is made from simple ingredients like chlorine bleach and ammonia," said Eastham.

They are two common household products that when mixed can create some noxious, dangerous fumes. "It's quite serious if people can't get to fresh air," said Eastham.

Luckily, the workers were treated on scene and released, but there's an important takeaway from the incident. "Number one, you don't put large amounts of ammonia and bleach in your household garbage, and if you have to dispose of this, heavily dilute it with water. Rinse out empty bottles. It only takes a small amount," said Chambers.

Even if you throw away just one ingredient at a time, you never know if your neighbor is throwing out something that could be dangerous if the two mixed. "These workers do deal with many hazards on a daily basis. So that's one less thing they'll have to deal with if the public can just follow those easy rules," said Chambers.

It's also important to note ammonia and bleach should never be stored together at your home.




Two Huntington sanitation workers are being treated by Cabell County EMS after opening a trash bag and becoming overwhelmed by chemicals in a residential neighborhood.

First responders said they responded to a call about 11:30 a.m. Wednesday about two workers who had passed out on the ground near the intersection of Holswade Drive and Cherry Avenue.

Officials at the scene said it appears as if the substance in the bag is a combination of ammonia, bleach and household trash.

Both roads were blocked during the incident, but crews are starting to clear the scene.



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