An automated machine punctured a can of bear repellent at an Amazon warehouse on Wednesday, releasing fumes that sickened workers and sent two dozen to hospitals, officials said.
At least one was in critical condition. About 30 other workers were treated at the warehouse, with most reporting difficulty breathing or burning in their throats or eyes.
The automated machine damaged a 9-ounce can of bear repellent containing a concentrated amount of capsaicin, an active component of chili peppers. The fumes were contained in one part of the building’s third floor, which was cleared for a few hours, though the warehouse as a whole was not evacuated.
Hundreds of workers are normally inside the building during work days.
Amazon said it is investigating.
“The safety of our employees is our top priority, and as such, all employees in that area have been relocated to a safe place and employees experiencing symptoms are being treated on-site,” the company said.