Worker at Burlington restaurant dies after breathing in fumes from a cleaning agent
The Burlington Fire Department reports a worker at Buffalo Wild Wings, 15 South Ave. died this evening after exposure to fumes from a cleaning agent in the kitchen and that ten other people - both workers and patrons - checked themselves into hospitals for evaluation.
The department reports firefighters responded shorlly after 5:30 p.m. on a report of "a chemical reaction in the kitchen area:"
Upon arrival, firefighters came upon a male employee who was suffering from nausea after it is believed that he breathing in fumes from the cleaning agent. The man was taken by ambulance to the hospital in serious condition and later died.
Firefighters evacuated the building and a Tier 1 hazardous material response was called for.
The department says there is no threat to the public, but that it ordered the restaurant shut to allow for both an investigation and a thorough decontamination of the kitchen.
The department did not identify the chemical, but the Globe reported it was Super 8, a bleach-based sanitizer.
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I hope they identify the poisonous substance soon. If it really is a commonly-used floor cleaner, as some reports say, then there should be widespread warnings to not use it.
It must have been mixed with something else
Looking online I see that Super 8 contains 8-10% of Sodium Hypochlorite. Household bleach contains around 4-5% Sodium Hypochlorite, so this is like a super bleach. The warning label for Super 8 mentions danger from eye and skin burns, but nothing about inhalation. I'm guessing that someone must have mixed the Super 8 with another cleaning product to result in such a noxious result.
Likely an ammonia-based cleaner
Anything with ammonia in it will produce chloramine when mixed with bleach.
There should be more
There should be more warnings about mixing ammonia and bleach products together .
There should be warnings on all bleach/ammonia products by law
...but they could probably be more prominently featured on the labels. Chemical warning labels nowadays are often very wordy, and written in very fine print (gotta fit all those words on there somehow). I agree it could certainly be done better, and there should be some training involved wherever both chemicals are present and an accident like this could occur.
Surprised it doesn't happen more often
I can totally see people thinking, "OK, I have some ammonia and water in the bucket, but to really kill the germs I should add some bleach." People must do that every single day. I'm guessing (I'm no chemist) that in a diluted solution in a bucket with mostly water, the reaction is minor enough that people either don't notice or realize that they did something bad and pour it out before it gets bad enough to be dangerous.
Chemicals identified in new article
Scale Kleen and Super 8 according to NBC News.
So, the ammonia speculation appears to be incorrect.