Fumes at Minneapolis-St. Paul airport send 19 workers to hospitals, disrupt check-ins | VailDaily.com

Fumes at Minneapolis-St. Paul airport send 19 workers to hospitals, disrupt check-ins

MINNEAPOLIS – A security checkpoint and two nearby ticket counters were closed for several hours and 19 people were taken to hospitals Tuesday after screeners at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport complained of irritating fumes.One traveler was treated at the scene, but 19 others – all employees of the Transportation Security Administration, American Airlines or US Airways – were taken to local hospitals after they complained of nose, ear or throat irritation. The injuries were considered minor.Air travel was unaffected. American and US Airways set up a makeshift ticket counter, and five other security checkpoints were available.The incident happened hours before President Bush was scheduled to arrive at 2 p.m. at a National Guard base next to the airport. The president’s arrival was unaffected.Airport spokesman Pat Hogan said security screeners during the morning reported an odd smell and irritation to people’s eyes, noses and throats. Some described it as sweet and others as peppery.Airport officials first speculated that the fumes came from something like Mace or pepper spray discarded by a traveler about to go through security. Later in the day, Hogan said an empty pepper spray can was found in the area, but it belonged to an airline employee who denied setting it off.”We have no evidence this was in any way intentional,” Hogan said.The counters and checkpoint reopened around 4 p.m. after multiple air quality tests found the area clean.Ann Zeiss, a teacher heading to Los Angeles on a flight due to leave at 3:15 p.m., said she wasn’t worried about making her flight or particularly fearful despite recent terrorism scares.”I think it’s important that people keep flying,” she said

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