Dozens of high school students and adults in Massachusetts were sickened when an overpowering odor caused nausea, dizziness, and other symptoms, ABC News reports. So eager were the teens to flee the building and get fresh air that many of them left their possessions, including books and backpacks, at their desks as they ran outside.
On Friday, students and teachers at Silver Lake Regional High School in Kingston were going about their day when, for reasons that remain unclear, a "strong odor" began overpowering them. The kids and adults began experiencing nausea, dizziness, watery eyes, and a scratchy throat.
"They just felt really lightheaded and nauseous," one student said.
"I saw a girl in a wheelchair. And that's when we were all like, 'OK, what's going on?'" said another teen.
"It was really heavy in your lungs, like you could feel it in there," was a third response.
Eventually, ambulances started arriving, taking the sickened children and adults to area hospitals. The students and teachers who weren't sickened were evacuated to the school's gymnasium.
Authorities say that all of the affected individuals are expected to make a full recovery. Authorities also hoped to allow the kids who fled the building back inside to retrieve their belongings, once it's safe to do so.
As of this writing, school officials still don't know what caused the overpowering odor, but according to Boston's WCVB-TV, it is believed to have emanated from one particular classroom.Kingston fire chief Mark R. Douglass says, via NECN, that he's considering the possibility that the source of the smell may have been brought into the building.
"It could be something that the student brought with them, that's a possibility. It could be an irritant," he said.
Hazardous materials (hazmat) teams were expected to clean up the building over the weekend, so that it will be ready for occupancy again on Monday. Douglass says that "everything's under control" and that the students and parents can "rest easy" about returning to class next week.
This is the second time in a few weeks that schoolchildren have been sickened by an overpowering odor, although in the earlier case, the source of the problem was anything but ambiguous. As reported at the time by The Inquisitr, in January, a Delta aircraft making an unscheduled landing at Los Angeles International Airport dumped its fuel at a low altitude over an elementary school, sickening dozens of children and adults.