A strange smell flowed through the third floor of Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Baltimore on Thursday.
Students and teachers were baffled. Some began coughing. Others had difficulty breathing.
“It was a smell that they certainly weren’t used to,” said Bill Heiser, the school’s president, who was off-campus at the time. “It appeared to be getting stronger.”
The odor was so concerning that the school’s principal evacuated the building and the fire department was called.
After arriving, the fire department requested a Hazmat team, which ran several tests for hazardous materials, reports The Baltimore Sun. All of them were negative, according to Baltimore fire spokesman Roman Clark.
Officials said dozens of students were triaged at the scene.
Two students and three adults were taken to the hospital for evaluation.
As crews started opening windows and placing heavy fans inside the school, one of the firefighters discovered the culprit: a pumpkin spice air freshener.
“This plug-in air freshener that basically puts out the odor every so many seconds, and it’s a pumpkin spice, and that’s exactly what, if you go in there, you can smell, so it has been identified. It is not hazardous at all.”
But Heiser is not convinced, reports WBAL11:
“What they did is also, as a precaution, they used fans to kind of circulate the air, and when they circulated the air, they did smell an air freshener. We don’t know that that’s the cause. It certainly wouldn’t be uncommon to blow an air freshener and then get that smell,” Heiser said.
Classes at the high school resumed today. A statement on the school’s website noted that a counselor would be available to talk with students about the event.
Pumpkin spice mania hits the US every fall, and food manufacturers are infusing everything imaginable with the flavor, including but not limited to kale chips, meats, cheeses, potato chips, cereals, popcorn, beer, pasta, chewing gum, and…cough drops (yes, I am serious).
If all of that wasn’t a sign that the seasonal flavor obsession has gone too far, perhaps the air freshener incident is.
Chef and television personality Anthony Bourdain might have been onto something when he shared his thoughts on the craze last year…
“I would like to see the pumpkin spice craze drowned in its own blood. Quickly.”
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Lily Dane is a staff writer for The Daily Sheeple. Her goal is to help people to “Wake the Flock Up!”