Sodium azide found in coffee pot from Yale School of Medicine hazmat incident

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NEW HAVEN — Investigators found sodium azide in a coffee pot linked a hazmat incident at Yale School of Medicine last week.

At least three people developed symptoms and were treated on February 28. All were treated and released.

In a report released Tuesday, investigators stated, “An independent laboratory test on items removed from the area indicated the presence of sodium azide, a substance commonly found in laboratories and used as a preservative. The single-serve coffee machine was not connected to a water source and the area was evaluated and declared to be safe by Yale Environmental Health and Safety. The Yale Police Department is continuing its investigation in collaboration with local, state, and federal law enforcement.”

The symptoms of exposure to sodium azide are dizziness, headache, nausea and vomiting, rapid breathing, and rapid heart rate according to Yale.

Officials said at least three people felt sick. The people became lightheaded and felt like they were going to faint after drinking from a water source, believed to be a coffee maker, in Sterling Hall. All the victims were either Yale faculty or students.

Officials with the city’s Office of Emergency Management said the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection collected the Keurig Coffee maker and cups for analysis as part of its investigation. DEEP said Wednesday they took air samples in addition to other materials. The New Haven Fire Department, Yale and New Haven Police, the New Haven Health Department and DEEP all responded to the scene at 330 Cedar St.