A Chattanooga Fire Department hazmat team responded to a Hixson business after employees reported being exposed to a chemical that made them sick.

Hamilton County EMS has transported more than a dozen patients from Southern Filter Media to area hospitals, mainly for observation.

Click here and here for more updates from the fire department.

Chattanooga Fire Department spokesman Bruce Garner said in a news release that the incident happened just before 10 a.m. Wednesday. 

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Employees told firefighters that they were using a heat sealing process when they started to feel sick.

They stopped the work, exited the building and called 911.

People were complaining of difficulty breathing or vomiting.

Battalion Chief Don Bowman said those treated—most of whom had less severe reactions—all had elevated levels of carbon monoxide.

After sorting out who was sick and who was not, Hamilton County EMS transported 24 patients to various hospitals, Garner said in the news release.

“A paramedic with EMS said none of the patients appeared to have life-threatening injuries,” Garner also said. “All were expected to be treated and released today.”

Bowman said hazmat personnel monitored the air quality inside Southern Filter Media while the building was ventilated.

Employees were allowed to go back in the building at around noon.

“An employee told firefighters that they were using the same heat sealing process they’ve always used, but they were using a slightly different material,” Garner also said in the release. “The company will be conducting its own investigation into what happened.”

Southern Filter Media produces filter bags and has 111 employees.

No information was available on how this incident will impact the company’s operation, Garner said.

Chattanooga Police Department officers also provided assistance on the scene.

Updated @ 2:52 p.m. on 8/30/17 to add more information as it became available.

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