UPDATE: Two dozen workers at an Amazon warehouse in South Jersey were hospitalized – one in critical condition -- and 30 others were treated at the scene after a can of pepper spray intended to ward off bears fell from a shelf and released a cloud of fumes.
The victims at the 1.3 million-square-foot Amazon fulfillment center in Robinsville, just outside of Trenton, reportedly had burning throats and difficulty breathing after the aerosol can fell off a shelf and discharged the fumes, authorities said.
"Today at our Robbinsville fulfillment center, a damaged aerosol can dispensed strong fumes in a contained area of the facility,” said Rachael Lighty, Amazon’s regional manager for external communications. , External Communications for Amazon Operations.
“Employees experiencing symptoms are being treated onsite,” Lighty said. “As a precaution, some employees have been transported to local hospitals for evaluation and treatment.”
The critically injured employee was taken to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital’s Hamilton facility.
The spray has the same effect on humans as it does on bears, according to the National Park Service’s Bear Management Office: “an extreme irritant of the skin, eyes, nose, throat, and lungs of bears, humans, and other mammals.”
National parks visitors have reportedly been victimized by the spray, the service says in an explainer.
Although symptoms subside in 45 minutes or so, victims must be closely monitored, the explainer says.
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