Hazardous materials team tackles chemical spill

Stock image | Photo by Olcayduzgun, Getty Images; St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A chemical spill in Dixie Regional Medical Center’s 400 East Campus laboratory brought a quick response from a hazmat team Wednesday evening.

The St. George Fire Department and hazardous materials team responded to a reported formaldehyde spill at Dixie Regional Medical Center’s 400 East Campus laboratory located at 544 S. 400 East, Terri Draper, Communications Director at Intermountain Healthcare Southwest Region, said.

Laboratory technicians reported that 6-8 ounces of formalin, a liquid containing formaldehyde and water, spilled onto the floor of the laboratory, Draper said, and 911 was called immediately.

Formalin is used to preserve tissue samples while awaiting examination by a pathologist.

The hazardous materials team responded within minutes and was able to safely clean and remove the potentially bio-hazardous substance within 30 minutes, Draper said.

Patients rooms are located away from the laboratory, so they weren’t at risk, Draper said.

Emergency personnel checked the four employees who were in the lab or who had entered immediately after the spill and they were cleared, she said.

The incident did not require an evacuation, Draper said, and no other injuries were reported.

“We are very grateful that everyone remained safe,” Draper said.

Eye and respiratory irritation can result from exposure to formaldehyde in both liquid and vapor forms, and if ingested the substance can cause abdominal pain and vomiting, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. 

This report is based on preliminary information provided by law enforcement or other emergency responders and may not contain the full scope of findings.

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