Apartment building evacuated after resident microwaves a hot pepper

ROCHESTER, N.Y., Aug. 30 (UPI) — Hazmat teams were called to a New York state building for an air contamination situation that turned out to be the result of microwaving a hot pepper.

Residents of the James A. Dobson building in Rochester summoned emergency responders about 10:20 a.m. Monday on a report of an odor that was causing some people to cough and experience trouble breathing.

Firefighters and police responded to the building and investigators in hazmat gear were able to seek out the cause — a hot pepper that had been put in a microwave.

The responders said the microwaving caused the chemical capsaicin, which causes the pepper’s spicy flavor, to become airborne. They said the result was similar to pepper spray.

“It seems whatever kind of pepper they were using, once it’s aerosolized, if you’ve ever gotten pepper in your eyes, you know how hard it can be on your system,” Lt. Dana Cieslinski of the Rochester Fire Department told WHAM-TV. “I do not know what kind of pepper it was, but clearly spicy enough to affect the people in the hallway.”

Authorities said no one required medical attention and residents were allowed back into the building shortly after noon.

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