Hazmat Leak at Philly VA Medical Center

Crews equipped to deal with hazardous materials spent about an hour at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center on Thursday morning to take care of a leak in the basement.

According to Captain Clifford Gilliam with the Philadelphia Fire Department, they were investigating a leak of ethylene  oxide.

No one was injured and no evacuations were necessary, Gilliam said. The VA Center staffs about 2,000 employees, according to it's website. It has 145 acute care beds for veterans as well as a 135-bed Community Living Center.

Ethylene oxide is a flammable, colorless gas that smells like ether when it reaches toxic levels, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). In hospital settings it can be used to sterilize surgical equipment. According to the OSHA website, exposure can cause eye pain and sore throats, difficulty breathing, blurred vision, dizziness, nausea, headache, convulsions and blisters. It's considered a carcinogen and has also been linked to spontaneous abortion, genetic and nerve damage.

The VA Center building is located at 3900 Woodland Avenue, which runs parallel to S. University Avenue near the University of Pennsylvania and the medical complex.

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