TWENTY-THREE people have been taken to hospital after a chemical leak at a warehouse in Livingston.
The workers were affected by fumes after Denatonium benzoate leaked from a container at around 8am today.
The casualties were complaining of throat irritation and mild breathlessness.
Firefighters wearing breathing masks entered the building, which is occupied by freight firm Palletways, and cleaned up the non-toxic chemical.
The victims were taken to St John’s hospital in Livingston.
A spokeswoman for Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue said: “More than twenty firefighters were called to a chemical spill at Palletways warehouse in Livingston, West Lothian shortly after 8am this morning.
“A small spillage of non-toxic chemical occurred at the business inSimpson Parkway, near MacIntosh Road, Kirkton, Livingston.
“The building was evacuated by fire crews and 23 people were checked over at the scene by ambulance crews before being taken to St John’s Hospital in Livingston for a check-up after the incident.
“The casualties were complaining of throat irritation and mild breathlessness.
“Firefighters using breathing apparatus and wearing gas tight chemical suits dealt with the spillage and made the area safe. A total of six fire and specialist appliances were sent out to the scene with the incident concluded just after 10am.”
Dr Alison McCallum, Director of Public Health and Health Policy, NHS Lothian, said: “NHS Lothian was alerted to the non-toxic chemical spill and appropriate action plans were immediately activated atSt John’sHospitalto deal with any casualties.
“The chemical involved, Denatonium Benzoate, was quickly identified as non toxic and therefore there was no risk to the wider community.
“A total of 23 people were identified as having minor symptoms and they were assessed and treated in the Accident and Emergency department in St John’s.
“There is no impact on the services at St John’s, which continue to run normally.”
Denatonium Benzoate is the bitterest chemical compound known.
It was discovered in 1958 in Edinburgh.
Most humans cannot stand the taste of a highly diluted solution.
It is colourless and odorless and used to prevent accidental ingestion by humans.
Denatonium benzoate is added to anti-freeze, animal repellents, rat poison, liquid soaps, shampoos, paints and varnish, nail polish remover and nail biting prevention products.
It is not said to cause long term health problems.
The chemical has been credited with saving the lives of children and domestic animals who otherwise would consume sweet products which are poisonous.