This sounds more like a weird joke rather than something that actually happened! Haz Mat vehicles and fire trucks surrounded a Colorado school last week as hazmat crews decontaminated students outside — spraying them down, fully clothed, in cordoned-off sections under a blue tent.
The students coming in after recess reported eye and skin irritations. Thirty kids and a teacher’s aide were eventually treated for symptoms similar to an allergic reaction. A handful were taken to the hospital. The rest were evacuated to a church down the street.
The question on everyone’s mind was – what caused this?!?!?! The school was closed for two days as investigators tried to figure out what “toxic irritant” had been released on the playground. They quickly figured out that it wasn’t fertilizer or pepper spray.
Turns out it was six habanero chili peppers caused this hot mess. Investigators found the peppers scattered in the wood chips near the playground and it isn’t known how the peppers got there.
Habaneros generally score between 100,000 and 350,000 units on the Scoville scale, which measures chili pepper hotness. To give you some comparison, jalepeno peppers usually score 2,500 to 5,000 units. Wow – that is hot!
When you grind (or step on) habanero peppers, capsaicin particles can be released into the air. Breathing them in or getting them in your eyes can cause a burning sensation.
The school had to wash down the playground equipment and surfaces that may have been exposed to the pepper oil and the wood chips are also being replaced.
The good news is that all the students who were brought to hospital for evaluation were released the same day, and all are fine, according to the local fire department.