Pepper spray may be to blame for problem that sickened 5 at Eastern Greene Middle School

People sent to hospital after ‘hazardous material incident’ at Bloomfield school (Photo courtesy of Center-Jackson Fire Territory)

BLOOMFIELD, Ind. – Pepper spray may be to blame for making five people sick at Eastern Greene Middle School.

The incident happened Thursday. Two students and three staff members experienced “minor airway irritation” and were taken to area hospitals. The problem was confined to a small part of the school, which was closed Friday for testing.

The source of the “chemical-based odor” may have been due to the inadvertent release of pepper spray, according to a message from Superintendent Carrie Milner.

Milner said all efforts have been made to eradicate the odor and any lingering effects. In addition, there will be a new policy regarding pepper spray:

As an additional precautionary step, the School Corporation will be sending a notice with directives to all staff requiring that anyone carrying the chemical pepper spray into a school building must either maintain possession of the chemical on their person in a place that is inaccessible to students or secure it in a locked drawer or cabinet that is inaccessible to students.

Initial tests showed there was “nothing to cause alarm,” but the school and county health department requested additional testing. Officials said earlier that the problem may have been traced to a laminator in an improperly ventilated area. The laminator was removed from the school as a precaution.

School was back in session Monday.

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