50 workers treated for exposure to chemical

By Gary Taylor | Sentinel Staff Writer
Posted September 9, 2003


More than 50 workers at an manufacturing plant west of Sanford were treated Monday for chemical exposure when a ventilation system malfunctioned. Many of the workers drove themselves to get treatment, and none of the injuries was serious.

The incident occurred about 7 a.m. at Florida Extruders Inc., 2540 Jewett Lane, but the Fire Department did not learn of it until about 9:40 when officials from Central Florida Regional Hospital called with questions about how many patients to expect.

By the time firefighters arrived at the business, all of the sodium hydroxide, also know as lye and caustic soda, had been cleaned up, said Alan Harris, a spokesman for the Seminole County Fire Department.

Firefighters went to the hospital to assist in decontaminating the workers before they were taken into the hospital for treatment, Harris said.

Florida Extruders makes aluminum parts for patio and pool enclosures, shutter systems, handrails, windows and doors. Company officials did not return phone calls.

Thirty-two workers initially went to the hospital and another 20 went to an urgent-care center, Harris said. Most of those who went to the urgent-care center eventually went to the hospital, he said.

The workers were suffering from skin irritation, watery eyes and breathing problems.

Gary Taylor can be reached at gtaylor@orlandosentinel.com or 407-324-7293.