Mystery contaminant sickens 50 at church party

Published April 22, 2013


An unidentified contaminant sickened about 50 people Saturday night who attended a party at a church in Dumont, N.J., reported.

Dumont Fire Chief Matthew Banta said people who attended the party, which took place at the Living Word Community Church, reported symptoms of chest pain and difficulty breathing.

Two people were taken to Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, and although the cause of illness has not yet been determined, Banta said the symptoms are consistent to pepper spray exposure.

Banta said hazmat teams from New Milford and Bergen County were brought to the church, and the Bergen County Mobile Intensive Care Communications system was put into effect.

A police officer who had been dispatched to the scene also reported symptoms.

“Was it some sort of poison? Was it something in the ventilation system?” Banta wondered when speaking to “The hazmat teams made numerous sweeps of the building, and nothing was found.”

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