Woman’s toxic suicide results in hazmat scare, evacuation

By David Ferguson
Tuesday, April 10, 2012 9:28 EDT
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Rescue worker in hazmat gear
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Residents had to be evacuated from a Boston apartment building after a resident committed suicide by ingesting a chemical that the human body metabolizes into a type of cyanide. According to a report from New England Cable News, firefighters and police donned hazmat suits to handle the body of a woman who killed herself using the chemical sodium azide (NaN3).

Four police officers and a crew of EMT’s were placed under quarantine until it was determined that they had not inhaled any of the poison being given off by the body. Residents of the apartment building were allowed to return within a few hours of the incident.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) describes sodium azide as an odorless crystalline white solid that when exposed to water or metal produces a toxic gas called hydrazoic acid vapor. In the body, this chemical interferes with cells’ ability to absorb oxygen, resulting in rapid cell death. Sodium azide is used in automobile airbags as well as in laboratory settings.

Watch the video, embedded via New England Cable News, below:

David Ferguson
David Ferguson
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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