Restaurant Worker Dies, 10 Others Hospitalized from Cleaning Agent Exposure

Burlington, Mass. – A restaurant worker has died after he was exposed to a cleaning agent at a restaurant in the city, Thursday.

NewsCenter 5, an ABC affiliate, reports that first responders were called to Buffalo Wild Wings after receiving a report of a chemical reaction in the kitchen area.

Authorities said the employee was exposed to a strong cleaning agent, and was suffering from nausea. It’s believed that he was breathing in fumes from the cleaning agent, Super 8, a sodium hypochlorite sanitizer.

The employee was rushed to Lahey Hospital where he later died.

The restaurant was evacuated following the incident. A total of ten victims, including employees and customers, checked themselves into the hospital for evaluation with difficulty breathing and eye irritation.

Michael Patterson, the interim Burlington fire chief said one worker who first prepared the floor to be cleaned was immediately exposed to the chemical, but quickly left the area to get fresh air.

The restaurant was closed for the night.

Police and OSHA are investigating the incident.

According to the American Lung Association, many cleaning supplies or household products can irritate the eyes or throat, or cause headaches and other health problems, including cancer.

Some products release dangerous chemicals, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Other harmful ingredients include ammonia and bleach. Even natural fragrances such as citrus can react to produce dangerous pollutants indoors.

VOCs and other chemicals released when using cleaning supplies contribute to chronic respiratory problems, allergic reactions, and headaches.

Studies are underway to assess how these chemicals affect people who have asthma and other respiratory illnesses.

However, past studies link exposure to chemicals from cleaning supplies to occupational asthma and other respiratory illnesses.

The Association advises:

  • When using cleaning or household products, keep the area well ventilated;
  • Open windows and doors; and
  • Never use cleaning products in a small, enclosed space.