Fire officials said Thursday night that a Buffalo Wild Wings worker in Burlington died after becoming exposed to the cleaning agent Super 8, and 10 other people were injured in what authorities deemed a “serious hazmat material incident” at the restaurant.
Interim Fire Chief Michael Patterson said Super 8 is a “common product” that contains a high concentration of chlorine. Patterson said it wasn’t clear whether the Super 8 at the restaurant was somehow mixed with another chemical.
A primer from Auto-Chlor, which sells Super 8, provides detailed information on the cleaning agent, which is a clear yellow liquid with a chlorine odor, according to the company website. The site says Super 8 is incompatible with “[s]trong acids, nitrogen and oxidizers.”
The company also notes that the hazardous ingredient in Super 8 is sodium hypochlorite.
The National Institutes of Health describes sodium hypochlorite as “a chlorine compound often used as a disinfectant or a bleaching agent.”
According to the NIH website, sodium hypochlorite when “heated to decomposition . . . emits toxic fumes of Na2O and /hydrogen chloride.”
The NIH site also says decomposition “of sodium hypochlorite takes place within a few seconds with the following salts: ammonium acetate, ammonium carbonate, ammonium nitrate, ammonium oxalate, and ammonium phosphate.”
Health experts say common cleaning products containing sodium hypochlorite such as bleach should not be mixed with ammonia, which is contained in other cleaning products, because the reaction produces toxic gases. The same goes for mixing bleach with any acid, which can also be found in household cleaning products.
Among the details from Auto-Chlor’s site:
■ Super 8 can be harmful if swallowed or if it comes into contact with skin, and it’s recommended that users wear eye protection and protective gloves, refrain from eating, drinking, or smoking while using the product, and wash hands thoroughly after handling.
■ If the cleaning agent is swallowed, users should rinse their mouths but not induce vomiting. If inhaled, users should be removed to fresh air and kept comfortable for breathing.
■ In the event of skin contact, “remove immediately all contaminated clothing,” the site says. “Rinse skin with water. Wash contaminated clothing before reuse.” If there’s eye contact, “rinse cautiously with water for several minutes. Remove contact lenses, if present and easy to do. Continue rinsing. Immediately call a poison center.”
■ Super 8 also must be properly stored. “Protect from freezing,” the Auto-Chlor site says. “Store locked up. Keep tightly closed in a dry, cool and well ventilated place.” In the event of an accidental release, the site says, workers should “isolate spill or leak area immediately,” adequately ventilate the area, and absorb the chemical “with earth, sand or other non-combustible material and transfer to containers for later disposal.”