What Chemical Made the Buffalo Wild Wings Employees Sick?

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One person is dead and 10 people were hospitalized when a worker at a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant in Massachusetts used a highly concentrated form of chlorine to clean the restaurant’s kitchen area.

On Thursday evening, a staff member inhaled the fumes of the chemical sodium hypochlorite and began experiencing nausea. The person died after being rushed to the hospital. The restaurant was then evacuated.

"The cleaning agent is Super 8. The chemical definition or chemical identification is sodium hypochlorite," said Michael Patterson, assistant chief of the Burlington Fire Department. "What sodium hypochlorite is a high concentration of chlorine.”

Buffalo Wild Wings said it is “shocked and saddened” by the “horrific accident,” and it is conducting an investigation on the incident. 

Sodium hypochlorite poisoning depends on the amount of the chemical that someone is exposed to, but the symptoms and effects of exposure are clear. 

What Is Sodium Hypochlorite? 

A cleaning liquid that has the odor of chlorine. Usually mixed with water, it is mainly used as a bleach or disinfectant to kill bacteria and can be found in many cleaning solutions.

What Are The Symptoms of Exposure? 

The chemical can negatively affect a person if they are exposed to it through eye contact, skin contact or inhalation of the fumes. Symptoms of exposure include: blurred vision; burning sensation in the nose, throat, and eye; coughing, chest tightness; shortness of breath; nausea and vomiting; headache; dizziness; wheezing; and coma, among others.

What to Do If You Are Exposed? 

If you experience any symptoms, seek medical care immediately, as exposure can be deadly. If the chemical came into contact with your skin or eyes, wash or flush the area with warm water for 15 minutes. If it’s swallowed, immediately drink water or milk. Quickly leave the area where the exposure happened.

How to Protect Yourself From Exposure?

Safety precautions should be taken around sodium hypochlorite and other harsh chemicals. People should always wear gloves, clothing and eye and face protection when handling the agent. If the chemical is spilled, people nearby should be evacuated and the area should be ventilated. The area can be washed with plenty of water.

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