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Pesticide forces ER evacuation

St. Mary’s reopens area following cleanup

December 10, 2013
By LEVI PASCHER , The Leader Herald

AMSTERDAM - The emergency room at St. Mary's Hospital reopened this morning after it was evacuated Monday afternoon while a woman was being treated for ingesting a pesticide, officials said.

An administrator at the hospital said the hospital was still cleaning the emergency room area early this morning. At 9:30 a.m., public relations coordinator Rick Hyde said the hospital was again fully operational.

The emergency room had been closed since Monday afternoon after a patient came in after ingesting the substance, officials said.

Around 2 p.m., the patient was transported to the hospital, city police said. While the victim was being treated at St. Mary's, hospital staff requested the Montgomery County Hazardous Materials team respond, police said.

The HazMat team determined the substance to be Malathion, an agricultural pesticide used for controlling insects on crops and mosquitoes in large areas, police said. The substance sometimes is used in head-lice products, police said.

Police are conducting no criminal investigation and no charges are pending, said police, who would not identify the victim.

Montgomery County Emergency Management Interim Director Rick Sager said the patients being treated for unrelated health issues were brought to another part of the hospital and all other emergency room patients were deferred to Nathan Littauer Hospital in Gloversville and Ellis Hospital in Schenectady.

Sager said the substance was only a hazard to others if it came in direct contact with the skin or was ingested.

"You would have had to come into physical contact with the product to have any danger," Sager said.

He said no other patients were treated for exposure as a result of the incident.

He said the woman was treated at the hospital and then taken to Albany Medical Center Hospital.

St. Mary's Hospital spokeswoman Jerri Cortese said the pesticide presented no immediate danger to those who were treating the patient because it's not an airborne pathogen and wasn't ingested by any staff.

"The risk was very minimal," Cortese said.

Levi Pascher can be reached at



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