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More than 20 people were hospitalized Wednesday after falling ill at a local business.

Shortly before 10 a.m., Chattanooga firefighters were dispatched to a reported hazardous materials incident at Southern Filter Media, located at 2735 Kanasita Drive in Hixson.

Employees at the company told firefighters they were using a heat sealing process when they fell ill, according to a news release from the Chattanooga Fire Department. They stopped the operation and got out of the building. When more employees started feeling sick, they called 911.

When the first firefighters arrived at the scene, the hazardous materials team was called in, along with Hamilton County EMS ambulances. Battalion Chief Don Bowman said two or three employees complained of difficulty breathing and vomiting. The symptoms for most of the other employees were less severe. Bowman said all had elevated levels of carbon monoxide.

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Hazmat incident at Southern Filter Media.

After sorting out who was sick and who was not, Hamilton County EMS transported 24 patients to Erlanger's main campus, Memorial hospital's main campus, Memorial North Park and Parkridge Medical Center. A paramedic said none of the patients appeared to have life-threatening injuries. All were expected to be treated and released Wednesday.

Bowman said hazmat personnel monitored the air quality inside Southern Filter Media while the building was ventilated. The employees were allowed back in the building around noon.

An employee told firefighters they were using the same heat sealing process they've always used, but they were using a slightly different material. The company will be conducting its own investigation into what happened.

Southern Filter Media produces filter bags and has 111 employees. No information was available on how the incident might affect the company's operation.

This story was updated Aug. 30 at 11:59 p.m.

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