BOISE - A hazmat crew responded to a report of a chemical exposure incident in a building at Boise State University Wednesday evening.
A police officer called a chemical spill in at about 5:30 p.m. Boise Fire spokesperson Tammy Barry says nitric acid and isopropyl alcohol mixed and caused a small explosion under the chemical hood (chemical containment area) in a lab at the Science and Education Building on Cesar Chavez Lane.
Three students were placed in showers for decontamination and eight others were being evaluated by paramedics, Barry said.
Boise Fire Battalion Chief Steve Rasulo says there were 11 students and staff in the room at the time of the explosion. By 7:30 p.m., six of them had been treated for nitric acid exposure, cleared by the hazmat team, put in white Tyvek protective suits and taken to the hospital.
"Several of them were exposed to the nitric acid. The university staff quickly got them into showers and disrobed, which is standard procedure when you have a chemical spill of that nature," Rasulo said. "In the first six that were transported, they actually had exposure to the chemicals itself in a splash method. The other students in the room were exposed to the vapors."
Initial contact burns are major concerns when someone comes into contact with nitric acid, as well as respiratory or pulmonary problems that could come about after exposure. Rasulo says that is why officials are evaluating everyone who was exposed to the chemicals.
Boise Fire's hazmat team moved into the area where the spill happened to determine the extent of it and neutralize the chemicals. Once they clear and neutralize the area, Boise State University crews can enter the area and do the final clean up.
It is unclear what the students were doing with the chemicals at the time, but fire officials say they expect BSU to look into the cause.