Red hot chilli peppers spark toxic school alert
A toxic scare at a US school that saw dozens of students having to be decontaminated and several taken to hospital with skin and eye irritation, may have been caused by one of the world's hottest chillis.
An investigation into the incident, which led Jefferson County Open School, Colorado, to be evacuated, found pieces of habanero peppers in the playground.
The chilli is so hot people handling them have to wear gloves.
In a statement, Melissa Reeves for Jefferson County Public Schools, said: "In searching the playground area, employees found pieces of approximately six habanero peppers scattered in the wood chips.
"Coming in contact with the pepper oil would cause many of the symptoms that students experienced.
"District teams are in the process of washing the playground equipment and wiping down surfaces inside to ensure that the school is free of any residual pepper oil.
"The wood chips in the area where the peppers were found are being replaced."
It is not known how the peppers got onto the playground.
Around 30 students and a teachers' assistant had to be washed down by firefighters on Monday, after children started complaining of burning eyes and skin irritation.
Seven were treated in hospital.
One young girl said: "They had to hose down my head. It was really cold."
A firefighter dealing with the incident said: "We had different hits of some toxic irritant type stuff.
"We have ruled out fertiliser which was some of the initial reports, as the soccer field directly north of the school did have fertiliser applied."
Related Stories Hot Sauce: Sriracha Firm's Lawsuit Over Smells Chilli Foils Robbery At Sydney Takeaway