Campus, News, Science & Technology

Chemical spill causes evacuation of Metcalf Science Center

The Boston Fire Department evacuated the Boston University Metcalf Science Center on Monday due to an ether spill in one of the laboratories.

The BFD responded after it received a call at about 6:45 p.m.,BFD spokesman Steve MacDonald said.

About four liters of ether spilled in a laboratory on the fourth floor of the building. There was no evident cause of the leak, but there were students working in the laboratory at the time of the incident, MacDonald said.

He said that the BFD evacuated the entire building to avoid any potential hazards. Firefighters investigated with chemical tests and meters, and results came back within normal limits.

The nature of the chemical is not extremely dangerous in certain amounts, and does not require extensive cleanup. MacDonald said that the spill was “really minor,” but it is always important to follow guidelines.

“Ether pretty much evaporates into the air,” MacDonald said.

Officials allowed people back into the building, except for the fourth floor, within 45 minutes. MacDonald said that representatives from BU Environmental Health & Safety examined the fourth floor for any remaining risks.

Nobody on the scene required medical attention.

BU spokesman Colin Riley said that he is happy that officials followed procedure in cleaning up the spill and making sure that faculty and students were safe.

“There are guidelines and procedures involved, and we’re well prepared to handle incidents [such as these],” he said. “We do a very good job in that area.”

Certain types of ether inhalation can cause harmful effects on health, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Vapors from ether can cause nasal, throat and respiratory irritation, and liquid ether can be irritating to the skin.

Ether can also yield to a “higher-than-expected incidence of lung cancer,” according to the ATSDR. The BFD, however, said the building is safe for entry for today’s classes.

Comments are closed.