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  • Randall Benton / rbenton@sacbee.com

    Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District officials respond Thursday to a hazardous material complaint at Sylvan Middle School in Citrus Heights. Students in one classroom said they were coughing and were treated with water to flush their eyes and faces.

  • Randall Benton / rbenton@sacbee.com

    Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District officials prepare to help students at Sylvan Middle School in Citrus Heights on Thursday after the possible release of an irritant in one of the classrooms. Students said they were coughing and were treated with water to flush their eyes and faces.

  • Randall Benton / rbenton@sacbee.com

    Sylvan Middle School student Diana Vavrynyuk 12, left, her mother, Angelina Vavrynyuk, and sister Angelica Vavrynyuk, 2, of Citrus Heights, leave the campus Thursday following a possible release of hazardous material at Sylvan Middle School in Citrus Heights. Diana Vavrynyuk says she was in the classroom where there was severe coughing. Her eyes and face were flushed with water.

  • Randall Benton / rbenton@sacbee.com

    A Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District responder escorts youths Thursday after a report of irritants in a classroom at Citrus Heights’ Sylvan Middle School. Students and a teacher reported symptoms similar to pepper spray.

UPDATE: Officials: No cause found for odor that led to evacuation of Sylvan Middle School classroom

Published: Thursday, Mar. 6, 2014 - 1:11 pm

No cause has been found for an odor that triggered respiratory symptoms and nausea in a math classroom Thursday at Sylvan Middle School in Citrus Heights.

“It’s inconclusive,” Capt. Chris Quinn of the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District said of the investigation by a Sacramento County hazardous materials team following the incident that led to evacuation of the classroom and sent two students to a hospital.

Twenty-three students in the seventh and eighth grades, along with a teacher, experienced coughing, watery eyes and some nausea, school and fire officials said.

Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District personnel arrived at the campus about noon after reports of possible exposure to a respiratory irritant, Quinn said. He said two students were taken by ambulance to Mercy San Juan Medical Center as a precautionary measure.

The first fire crews on the scene summoned a hazardous materials team to survey the classroom and look for natural or chemical products that might have caused the physical reactions, officials said.

The 23 students in the classroom ranged generally from age 12 to 14.

School officials quickly sent out an automated phone call to parents alerting them to the situation. The students affected remained on campus so they could be checked out by medical personnel.

Quinn said the effects of chemicals such as pepper spray are consistent with the symptoms that the classroom occupants experienced. But Trent Allen, spokesman for the San Juan Unified School District, said there had been no reports of pepper spray or similar material found at the campus.

Quinn said no additional odor was detected by investigators, and air sampling in the classroom showed no evidence of anything that would have caused the symptoms. He said the classroom was determined to be safe.

Allen said the classroom was given a clean bill of health by the hazardous materials team and the county health officer. School will resume as usual today, including classes in the affected classroom. He said school officials will be vigilant for any recurrence of the symptoms. Allen said he had no information on the condition of the two students who were taken to the hospital, saying the school principal was following up with their families.

The campus, which has students in grades 6 through 8, had a previously scheduled early release of 1 p.m. Thursday. Officials said the departures proceeded in an orderly fashion with the help of the Fire Department and Citrus Heights Police Department.

Students typically are excused for the day after 2 p.m.


Call The Bee’s Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

Read more articles by Cathy Locke



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