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East Valley High Teacher Reportedly Mistakes Sulfuric Acid for Nitric Acid; Chaos Ensues

The science experiment that launched a dozen fire trucks.

CBS2The science experiment that launched a dozen fire trucks.

The entirety of East Valley High School in North Hollywood was evacuated this afternoon when a science teacher reportedly got her chemicals confused.

According to Brian Humphrey at the L.A. City Fire Department, various witnesses and parents are saying that the teacher mistook sulfuric acid for nitric acid, then poured it into a container filled with sugar.

Naturally, chaos ensued:

"The chemicals mixed inadvertently, which led to some noxious fumes," says Humphrey.

Although the chemistry teacher was quick to "close the container and put it under a vent hood," the fumes were already on the air -- leaving officials with no choice but to declare an "inhalation hazard" at East Valley High.


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That's when things got cray. Around 1:15 p.m., Vineland Avenue was shut down near campus and all students at East Valley High were evacuated onto the football field, as the LAFD evaluated the 45 students from the chem class for signs of exposure.

Then, an hour later, while paramedics kept an eye on 15 remaining students "with minor complaints," all field evacuees were transferred to the gymnasium -- but not before a Hazmat team had thoroughly combed the gym and declared it fume-free.

According to LAUSD:

Additional drinking water was provided to the 900 students and staff initially evacuated. Parents received phone calls with instruction on dismissal.

After all this, says Humphrey, only three people were sent to the hospital: the teacher, a 16-year-old student and a 30-something adult (possibly a staffer at the school). Not for anything too serious, either: He says they were just complaining of "headaches and general malaise."

Can't be too careful, we suppose. Here's what happens when you mix sulfuric acid and sugar, courtesy of some brave soul on YouTube:

Unfortunately for the chem students of East Valley High, it sounds like they didn't even get to the part where black bubbles start oozing violently into the atmosphere. What's youth without a few noxious fumes to the nostril?

[@simone_electra / swilson@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]