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Toxic Leak at Hospital Forces Evacuation of 40

November 08, 1986

Forty workers at a Kaiser Permanente hospital in Woodland Hills were evacuated and 10 of them examined after a toxic gas used to sterilize surgical equipment leaked from a canister Friday, the Los Angeles Fire Department said.

The leak of ethylene dioxide in the basement of Kaiser Permanente Medical Center at about 4 p.m. occurred when a repairman accidentally closed a door, pinching the canister, Kaiser spokeswoman Kathy Bogan said.

Ten people who were nearby were examined, some of them complaining of dizziness, headaches and nausea, she said. No one was admitted to the hospital, she said.

Kaiser doctors were checking other employees in the basement as a precaution, Bogan said.

The gas set off emergency alarms in the basement and the Fire Department's hazardous materials team arrived to verify that the gas had been vented outside, Assistant Chief Bob Ramirez said.

It was the third incident involving possible discharges of the gas in four months at the hospital. Twice on July 16 staff members and patients were evacuated from the basement, emergency room and first floor after alarms sounded. But Los Angeles County health officials later said their investigation revealed no trace of the gas.

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