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October 28, 2011

10 sickened by mysterious fumes in Pa. building

Matthey Santoni
Pittsburgh Tribune Review 

PITTSBURGH, Pa. — Allegheny County officials are uncertain exactly what sickened a total of 10 people inside a Bellevue apartment building this morning, but do not believe there was anything hazardous.

Emergency responders were inside the three-unit building in the 300 block of Lincoln Avenue around 9:30 a.m. for an elderly woman's medical alert call when they started having trouble breathing, said Alvin Henderson, Jr., acting chief of emergency services for Allegheny County.

Six firefighters, two police officers, one medic and the 97-year-old woman were transported to Allegheny General Hospital for treatment and observation. All were released by this afternoon except for one responder who was still being observed for a preexisting medical condition, Henderson said.

Hazmat crews searched the building and took samples, but a mobile forensics lab determined nothing they tested appeared dangerous. Henderson said the first responders may have been reacting to cleaning agents or allergens inside the building, which utility companies and the county Department of Aging would have to check over before the woman could return home.

"It could be a multitude of issues: It's an old home, closed up tight ? the home itself could have had some kind of cleaning agent or fumes," Henderson said. "We've had the doors and windows open a while and we aren't detecting anything on our meters or smelling anything."

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