Lowe’s was forced to evacuate a store in Medford, N.Y., yesterday after employees lifting a pallet of hydrochloric acid accidently damaged some of the containers, causing them to leak, according to several media outlets.
Long Island’s Newsday, citing local fire officials, reported that seven people were hospitalized with chemical burns and respiratory problems. The Suffolk police said that no one suffered life-threatening injuries, however. It was unclear as to whether those exposed to the chemicals were customers or employees.
News 12, a Long Island television station, reported that two customers were sent to local hospitals and the rest of the victims were treated at the scene.
Hydrochloric acid, also known as muriatic acid, is commonly used as a pool-cleaning agent. According to Newsday, Lowe’s workers accidently poked a case of plastic bottles of hydrochloric acid with a forklift, causing them to leak. The incident happened at about 2:40 p.m. The store was evacuated and closed down for cleanup for the next three hours, the newspaper said.