Teens exposed to toxin while detasseling

Published 07/25 2013 04:40PM

Updated 07/30 2013 01:37PM

Updated: 7:23 pm 

PESOTUM -- A sudden shower turned a day in the fields into a trip to the hospital for dozens of teenagers. More than 70 teens were detasseling corn Thursday morning, just south of the intersection of Co. Rd. 200N and 1100E, when a crop duster accidentally sprayed them.

The emergency room director at Carle Hospital says all of them should be fine. Some had skin irritation from the chemicals, but that was the worst of it.

Investigators say the crop duster was working on behalf of a farmer in a neighboring field when it accidentally sprayed a fungicide over the teens. The detasselers were working in a field owned by Monsanto.

Fire fighters and HAZMAT teams decontaminated them by hosing them down with water. Afterwards, they went to Carle as a pre-caution.

The teens changed into blue jump suits since their clothes were covered in chemicals. The ER director says contaminations like this are normal, especially in Central Illinois, but they usually involved just a few people, not almost 80.

"We have more providers in the emergency department, physicians, PA’s, advance practice nurses, nursing staff have been increased. We have people to transport more than what we would normally have," said ER director Allen Rinehart.

The detasselers were evaluated one-by-one before being released to their parents. Many of them seemed to be in good spirits despite the scare. All of them were treated and released.

Monsanto, the company that hired the detasselers, says all safety and decontamination procedures were followed. The Champaign County Sheriff’s Office is investigating this incident. They’re still working with the FAA in order to track down the pilot. No word yet if any charges will be filed against the farmer or pilot.

Original: 11:00 am
PESOTUM -- More than 70-teens may have accidentally been exposed to a toxin from a crop duster. It happened in Pesotum in Champaign County in a farm field where the teens were detasseling corn.

Hazmat crews and first responders decontaminated kids at the scene, then transported them to the hospital as a precaution. Doctors say the teens should all be fine. A few sustained skin irritation from the chemical.

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