Stinky office refrigerator sends 28 to hospital

If you ever needed a reason to keep your refrigerator clean, then read this article from the San jose Mercury News, “Stench from rotten refrigerator sickens 28; San Jose office evacuated.”

Apparently, not only was there rotting food in the mini refrigerator, but it was unplugged and moved to a conference room for cleaning according to

“ The refrigerator had been unplugged for some time and moved into a conference room for cleaning. When the woman tried to scrub down the mess, the stench from the cleaning chemicals combined with the rotting food.”

“Someone also took some spray and tried to deodorize the air,’ said Capt. Barry Stallard of the San Jose fire department. “And it turned out that was spot cleaner, not a deodorant. So it made people very sick.”

Bam, all that stink created the perfect noxious smell storm that sent 28 people to hospital and ended up in a massive building-wide evacuation. A HazMat team was called in to investigate the source of the stench. One experienced firefighter theorized the powerful odor might have been produced by rotting meat, but the mixture of different cleaning chemicals probably did not help matters.

In the end everyone turned out to be ok, and everyone joked about the matter. Oh and the original woman that was brave and considerate enough to clean out the stinky fridge?

“She suffers from allergies, firefighters said, and had had nasal surgery. She didn’t smell a thing, ” according to the story on

Some refrigerator cleaning tips

Use the proper cleaners and don’t mix cleaners. Especially do not mix ammonia with bleach. This combination results in an irritating fume called chloramine gas, according to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.   “Exposure to chloramine causes irritation to the eyes, nose, throat, and airways. Symptoms include teary eyes, runny nose, sore throat, coughing and chest congestion.”

Do not mix bleach to products containing acid such as drain openers, toilet bowl cleaners, oven cleaners, and vinegar as this combination produces chlorine gas.

“Chloramine gas, causes irritation of the eyes, nose, throat and lungs. Chlorine gas, however, causes more severe and long-lasting effects than chloramine. Some exposures to chlorine gas may require medical treatment,” Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Open a window when cleaning. When using strong cleaning agents like mildew remover, oven cleaners, drain openers, or toilet bowl cleaners, take a break if you feel light headed, dizzy, throat irritation, difficulty breathing, or coughing. Open a window to help ventilate the area.

Visit the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for a list of potentially hazardous cleaning chemicals.

Prevent this happening in the first place!

Regularly clean out your fridge and toss expired products, leftovers, and anything fuzzy or green that shouldn’t be. To keep your fridge smelling fresh, consider using a Fridge Aid Deodorizer that destroys obnoxious odors before they start. These refrigerator deodorizers can also be purchased in a 12 pack, so you can have an odor-free fridge all year.

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