An apparent chemical leak at a Massachusetts industrial manufacturer that hospitalized at least 20 employees was somehow transformed into a vape-related incident by reporters covering the story, and amplified by lazy editors and headline writers.
Thermal Circuits, a Salem, MA, manufacturer of “flexible, etched-foil heaters,” doesn’t appear to make e-cigarettes or vapor products. The company makes parts for a variety of applications, but vaping isn’t one of the many listed on its detailed website. The company has been in business since the 1950’s.
So why are local and national news sources describing the company’s facility as an “e-cigarette factory”? It seems to have begun with a live TV broadcast Sunday night from the site of the incident.
Sunday the Salem fire department was called to the company’s facility twice, first in the afternoon for a reported chlorine leak. Then, according to the Boston Globe, after the plant had been cleared to begin production again, “Hazmat teams and firefighters were called to the plant, at 1 Technology Way, just after 9 p.m., after reports of multiple people overcome by gas. Workers flooded out of the building, into surrounding areas.”
“The possibility of 20 people down was reported, and medical personnel were directed to check all those streaming out of the building to be checked for inhalation problems,” said the paper. “Decontamination units were set up at Salem Hospital. Police were called to the hospital to assist with managing the crowd. State police were also on the scene. The building was evacuated.”
Although the second incident seems from the employees’ reactions to have been more serious, the fire department couldn’t find evidence of any spill or leak. The Salem fire chief suggested that it seemed like a “mass hysteria” event. At least 20 employees checked into local hospitals. The site was chaotic, and no one was sure what exactly was happening.
That’s when Tiffany Chan, a reporter for Boston CBS TV affiliate WBZ, went on the air live and described Thermal Circuits, saying, “They manufacture e-cigarettes, and possibly use chlorine as some type of heating chemical in these e-cigarettes.” Where did she hear that? No one knows, and she’s not talking. Vaping360 has requested answers by email and on Twitter, where she also reposted her story. She has not responded. Obviously, chlorine is not a vapor product component.
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