Elmwood Park elementary school closed Friday after chemical leak

ByEyewitness News via WABC logo
Friday, December 15, 2017
New Jersey elementary school closed Friday after chemical leak
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Jim Dolan has more on the elementary school closed after a chemical leak.

ELMWOOD PARK, New Jersey (WABC) -- An elementary school in New Jersey is closed Friday after a chemical leak sickened several students and some employees, and administrators are working to resolve the situation by the start of the next school week.

The chemical leak was first thought to be a carbon monoxide scare and led to the evacuation of Gantner Avenue School in Elmwood Park.

Officials say the leak happened in the heating and air conditioning unit on the roof of the school and prompted several students, a custodian and a firefighter to be taken to the hospital for treatment Wednesday.

Two students fainted and a third complained of nausea, while several other students went to a nearby firehouse to be treated.

Hazmat teams tested the children for carbon monoxide at the firehouse, but they found no traces of the gas.

They later found that the incident was caused by glycol, a chemical that is part of the HVAC system in the school.

The school did reopen on Thursday, but then six staff members were sent home sick. Two even had to be taken to the hospital via ambulance.

Officials and outside companies have determined that the HVAC unit is working properly, but the school announced Thursday that: "Out of an abundance of caution and to be proactive, we will be closing school tomorrow to perform these additional tests, to ensure the safety of our students and staff. As soon as we have those results, we will be sharing them with the community."

An independent indoor air quality test was scheduled for Friday.