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Brian Champagne, KSL-TV

USU lab evacuated after harmful vapor released

By Celeste Tholen Rosenlof | Posted - Jun 13th, 2014 @ 3:13pm


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LOGAN — After a disinfecting substance was mistakenly placed in an autoclave in a Utah State University laboratory, causing a harmful chemical reaction, one laboratory employee was taken to the hospital.

Friday afternoon, a female employee of the Laboratory Animal Research Center at USU opened the lab’s autoclave — a disinfecting device that submits materials to high pressure steam — releasing a harmful vapor that was the result of Virkon disinfectant being put in the device’s chamber, said Tim Vitale, director of public relations and marketing at USU.

Employees evacuated the area and called emergency services after the incident. Logan hazardous-materials officials were evaluating the area Friday afternoon.

Vitale said the Virkon was removed from its bucket and wrongly put into a biological bag, which was then put in the autoclave for routine sterilization, Vitale said.

A similar incident happened in March, Vitale said, and employees were given extensive training on Virkon at that time. The employee who put the Virkon in a biological bag was not part of those trainings, he said.

In total, seven employees were evaluated for respiratory problems. The female employee who opened the autoclave was taken to the hospital, and a male employee was being monitored at the university.

Vitale said the vapor was contained and not a threat to the public at large, and no animals were hurt during the incident.

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Celeste Tholen Rosenlof

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Updated: Saturday September 22, 2018 10:33 pm