Haz-mat call at Memorial Hospital in Chattanooga stemmed from moldy bananas

Haz-mat call at Memorial Hospital in Chattanooga stemmed from moldy bananas

September 15th, 2011 by Staff Report in Local - Breaking News

Captain David Tallent with the Chattanooga Fire Department holds up two moldy bananas, which were believed to be the source of the offending odor. / Chattanooga FD

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

A haz-mat team spent about four hours combing through Memorial Hospital's mailroom looking for the source of a suspicious odor before they discovered the culprit: A pair of moldy bananas.

At about 10:30 a.m., mailroom employees contacted the fire department after becoming aware of the strange smell. They also reported that six employees were complaining of sore throats, and had been isolated in the hospital emergency room, according to fire department spokesman Bruce Garner.

The fire department responded with a haz-mat team, along with a U.S. Postal inspector, Garner said.

"The team was very thorough. They went through every mail item, every single envelope, just in case," Garner said.

On the third sweep of the room around 2:30 p.m., the team found the two bananas rotting in a trash can.

"All indications are that it was the bananas. No other materials have been found that could have contributed to the smell," Garner said.

Though Garner joked about the outcome of the incident, he said the haz-mat team and the Memorial medical staff did exactly what they were supposed to do under the circumstances.

"We had a full scale response, but fortunately it was much ado about nothing," he said.

As for what caused the sore throats, Memorial spokesman Brian Lazenby said no official explanation has been determined, and all employees have been released from the emergency room.

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