The pumpkin spice craze showed its dark side when an air freshener with the popular fall scent caused a Baltimore high school to be evacuated and sent five people to the hospital.
According to the Baltimore Sun, students and teachers at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School became aware of an unusual smell coming from the third floor on Thursday afternoon. Bill Heiser, the school's president, told the paper that the smell "appeared to be getting stronger," and that several students and teachers experienced breathing difficulties.
Over 200 staff and students were quickly evacuated soon after and the Baltimore Fire Department was called. A hazmat team also arrived on the scene to check for hazardous materials, but tests came back negative.
Firefighters eventually found the source of the smell, which turned out to be a pumpkin spice aerosol plug-in.
In the end, two students and three adults were taken to the hospital for "ailing stomachs," Baltimore fire spokesman Roman Clark told the Baltimore Sun.
Air fresheners cancause headaches and gastrointestinal problems for those who are sensitive to smells. They can also trigger respiratory problems as home fragrance products often contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which includes chemicals that can increase the risk of asthma
After the source of the smell was discovered, firefighters opened windows to air out the building.
Classes at the high school resumed on Friday, and a school statement noted that a counsellor would be available to talk to students about the incident.
It's always best to take precaution, call 911.
Although the unusual smell did not pose a danger, fire spokesman Clark said, "It's always best to take precaution, call 911, let us — we are the experts — come in and make sure that everything is safe, so we have no problem with them making this call."
"We want to make sure that these students and teachers are all safe," he added.
The pumpkin spice craze has gradually increased over the years, with new creations cropping up every fall. This year, Starbucks added pumpkin-spice whipped cream to their menu for a limited time, Krispy Kreme brought back pumpkin spice doughnuts, Bailey's released a limited edition pumpkin spice liqueur, and New Jersey's Villa Italian Kitchen has (wait for it) a pumpkin spice pizza.
But now, considering this evacuation, maybe it's best we chill on the pumpkin spice for the rest of the year.
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