Thirty workers at an e-cigarette factory in Massachusetts were rushed to the hospital over the weekend after suddenly falling ill on the job—and no one has any idea what happened to them, Boston 25 News reports.
The bizarre string of events began on Sunday afternoon, when a hazmat team was called to Salem-area factory Thermal Circuits to check on a reported chlorine leak. The leak was quickly dealt with and everything was deemed safe later that evening, so the employees headed back to work. But about an hour later, things took a very scary turn.
Suddenly, dozens of factory workers began to fall ill, some reportedly puking and others struggling to breathe. One worker also had a seizure, Salem fire chief Gerry Giunta confirmed to Gizmodo. The widespread illness sweeping through the plant ignited a "mass hysteria," deputy fire chief Alan Dionne told CBS Boston, and panicked e-cig workers raced to escape the factory before they presumably suffered the same fate.
Ambulances raced dozens of ill workers off to a nearby hospital and the hazmat team returned to investigate. Mysteriously, the officials were at a loss to find anything that might have caused the symptoms. The chlorine leak was still under control and there were no indications of any hazardous materials anywhere in the building.
"I’m kind of bewildered at it because there were zero readings when we left, Giunta told Gizmodo. "I’m at a loss to tell you exactly what happened."
The Salem Fire Department later released a statement suggesting that the mysterious incident might be due to the installation of "new carpeting" in the building, which gave off an odor. But even that doesn't seem like a real answer to the mystery, since the hazmat team didn't find any "hazardous or dangerous readings" around the carpet.
Thermal Circuits was closed Monday as investigators continued to search for some answers. Luckily, it seems like the symptoms were not particularly severe, and Giunta told Gizmodo that almost all the workers are back at home, except for one who is still hospitalized. Let's hope investigators can get to the bottom of the bizarre turn of events, and pray that this isn't the start of some kind of mass popcorn lung epidemic or something.
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