David Chang

Crews Respond to Chemical Leak False Alarm at Philadelphia VA Medical Center

Around 100 people were removed from the building.

Crews responded to a suspected chemical leak at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center but it turned out to be a false alarm.

Officials say a "dangerous inhalant," later identified as Ethylene Oxide (EtO), leaked in the basement of the building at 3900 Woodland Avenue, around 5 p.m. Sunday. Around 100 people were evacuated from the building.

The leak was contained to the basement and the situation was placed under control at 5:58 p.m., officials said. No injuries were reported.

It was later revealed to be a false alarm.

"On Sunday, April 30, an Ethylene Oxide (EtO) detection alarm activated in the Sterile Processing Service (SPS) area of the Corporal Michael J. Crescenz VA Medical Center at 5 p.m.," VA hospital public affairs officer Fern Billet said. "ETO has not been in use at the facility since October 2016. The alarm was a false alarm, and we are investigating what triggered it. There was never any danger of a health risk to patients, staff or visitors to the facility. Staff in the SPS area was evacuated as a safety precaution."

EtO is used in several industrial chemicals and can cause ailments including respiratory irritation, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and shortness of breath, according to the United State Occupation Safety and Health Administration. Long-term exposure can lead to cancer and reproductive issues, OSHA says.

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