December 16, 2013

An East Sac High School student collapsed Friday afternoon from inhaling fumes from a cleaner applied to the gymnasium floor.

The remainder of the building's approximately 300 students were released early as the fumes invaded the second and third floors of the school building, East Sac schools Superintendent Kevin Fiene said.

Fiene identified the offending chemical as Gym Tacker, a cleaning agent used to remove tar and grease from the gym floor. An unspecified number of students complained of headaches and nausea from smelling the fumes, but all went home.

When the fumes traveled to the upper floors, administrators had the option of bringing all students to the first floor for the remainder of the afternoon, or sending them home with parental permission. After lunch, tables were set up and students were released. Classes remained in session in the other district buildings.

One student was extremely nauseated and reportedly fell to the floor in the high school office, according to Fiene. She was transported by ambulance to Lohring Hospital in Sac City, where she was quickly released. Fiene said that the student was home and feeling better late Friday afternoon.

According to Fiene, the town's fire chief, Jim Garrels, determined that the chemical was not toxic or flammable. Garrels could not be reached to comment for this article.

The custodial staff cleaned the gym floor on Friday in preparation for a memorial volleyball tournament East Sac hosted Saturday. Fiene said another cleaning wouldn't be necessary until the end of basketball season.

Fiene said the cleaner has been used for years, and he had no explanation for why the fumes were so strong on Friday, but suggested it could be related to humidity or atmospheric conditions. He said the school will continue using the cleaner, but in the future the custodians will apply the cleaner when students are not in the building.