Authorities: Did Formaldehyde Sicken 150 Workers?

Formaldehyde sprayed to prevent leather from molding might be the cause of noxious fumes that sent more than 150 workers at a Vietnamese shoe factory to the hospital on Friday. One worker died the following day.

Early in the day on Friday, workers sprayed formaldehyde, used as a preservative, on leather in a storage area at the Nam Kang Shoe Factory, which is in the Binh Duong province. Later, hundreds of workers were allowed to go home early after they complained about a noxious smell, according to a company official.

One female worker suffered severe breathing problems and was hospitalized Friday night. The worker, who recently suffered from hepatitis, died on Saturday.

When workers returned to the factory on Saturday, they had even more severe reactions. Many experienced headaches, eye irritation and vomiting, and some fainted, said the factory official.

Although the formaldehyde is believed to have made the workers sick, authorities are continuing their investigation since the 14 workers who sprayed the chemical were not affected.

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