STOCKHOLM – Local police are reporting that hundreds of people have been evacuated from the The Karolinska Institute, one of the most prestigious and largest medical universities in the world.
The chemical leak occurred on the seventh floor of a laboratory causing a number of people to be hospitalized on Thursday. According to the newspaper Aftonbladet, those hospitalized were reporting symptoms of gas poisoning and were admitted to a local hospital. The Karolinska Institute is located, not on the outskirts of Stockholm but in a thriving urban location.
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It’s believed that the evacuation will affect a number of businesses in the area as well The Royal Institute of Technology.
“There has been a discharge of gas in this room. It is probably the chemical toluene. In concentrated form it constitutes a fire and explosion hazard,” police spokesperson Sven-Erik Olsson told Aftonbladet. While dangerous in its own right if inhaled, Toluene is also flammable and with that comes a risk of explosion.
Police, ambulances and emergency teams are on site, and the newspaper is reporting that a team wearing protective suits and gas masks have already entered the building.
Exposure to toluene can cause light-headedness, sleepiness, unconsciousness and even death if exposure is prolonged.
Toluene is a fairly common solvent and a precursor to benzene production.
It’s believed that the spill, or leak, no longer poses any risk but the building remains cordoned off until the source is discovered.
“It’s OK now, it was something chemical,” Olsson told news agency TT. “There was a strong chemical smell on a couple of floors, but we haven’t been able to locate a source,” he added.