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‘Panic’ Ensues as 30 Workers at E-Cig Plant Get Sick

When the local fire chief arrived at the plant, he described the scene as “mass hysteria.”

A plant in Salem, Massachusetts was closed Monday after thirty workers spent the night prior at a local hospital.

In rather dramatic fashion, the plant workers evacuated in a panic after dozens of them reportedly experienced symptoms of nausea and shortness of breath.

The weird thing is, nobody really knows why.

Sunday, June 23rd was already an unusual day at Thermal Circuits, an e-cigarette manufacturing plant. Fire crews were first called to the plant in the afternoon in response to a reported chlorine leak. The process containing the leak was shut down and the emergency workers gave everything the all clear.

Unfortunately, less than two hours later, firefighters were called back to the plant. When they arrived, they reportedly saw a panic-stricken workforce, as people streamed from the building.

But firefighters say the previously addressed chlorine leak was part of a process that had not been restarted and they couldn’t detect any presence of the gas.

So what caused the scary symptoms that sent dozens to seek medical treatment – including one person who reportedly experienced a seizure? Health and safety experts stayed onsite until 2:30am Monday trying to determine the cause but were unable to get any poor air quality readings – though a spokesperson for the local fire marshall’s office says it’s not exactly uncommon for gases to dissipate before the fire department is on scene and able to catch levels with their equipment – and by then, the damage could be done.

But what if there was another reason? The Boston Globe quoted Salem Fire Deputy Chief Alan Dionne perhaps indicating that the chaotic scene itself might have played a role: “They all exited rapidly, which caused a mass hysteria, in my belief,” said Dionne. “A lot of people got very upset and very excited,” he said.

Was it all in their heads? OSHA was on scene Monday to help determine what caused the incident but, more than likely, we’ll never know.

Update: The claim that Thermal Circuits manufactures e-cigarettes and/or e-cigarette components has been disputed, most notably by

IEN reached out to Thermal Circuits via phone and email. The company receptionist was unable to confirm or deny if the company manufactures e-cigarettes or e-cigarette components, and a voicemail left for the spokesperson was not answered.

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