Columbus Teacher On Leave After Student Suffers Chemical Burns

UPDATED: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 --- 5:15 p.m.
Reporter: Phil Levin

School staff and police are still investigating why a middle school student was sent home with chemical burns.

A 7th grader was given 30 percent hydrogen peroxide by a teacher to clean a paint stain. Even with gloves, the girl's parents say her hands were burned.

Superintendent Dr. Bryan Davis tells NBC 15 the district is interviewing those involved, and will keep the teacher on leave until they figure out what happened. At the request of the girl's parents, Lt. Dennis Weiner says the Columbus Police Dept. was also at the school Wednesday looking into whether a crime was committed. Both groups expect to reach a conclusion later this week.

The girl's father, Jake Blumenthal, tells NBC 15 that his daughter's hands are wrapped but healing. He is most upset that he wasn't notified when the chemicals procured from a science teacher were spilled on his daughter's hands.

Drugstores commonly carry 3 percent hydrogen peroxide. Police confirm the girl was given a bottle ten times that strong.

"As you get beyond 10 percent and even beyond 30 percent, 50 percent and even higher, it can be caustic just to intact skin," said UW Hospital Emergency Room Toxicologist Dr. Allan Mottram. "Usually those products are reserved for chemistry labs, or for cleaning purposes or industry."

Mottram says the effects are usually temporary.

"A few drops of a 30 percent concentration of hydrogen peroxide on intact skin is really not going to be very harmful. The danger lies in extended exposure when it's undiluted."

Blumenthal tells NBC 15 tonight that his daughter had two bottles of 30 percent concentration of the chemical. He says the steel wool she was supposed to be using to clean melted in the hydrogen peroxide. He also says the school principal has been very responsive to his concerns.

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Posted: April 9, 2013 --- 10:48PM
Reporter: Kristin Mazur

A Columbia County girl is recovering from burns after her parents say a teacher forced her to handle hazardous materials unsupervised.

That teacher has been placed on administrative leave.

The girl's father wouldn't go on camera today, but tells NBC 15 he's thankful his daughter's injuries weren't as bad as they could have been.

His 12-year-old daughter is a seventh grader at Columbus Middle School.

The father says she was working on an after-school project. Her teacher asked her to spray paint a board. She was given a choice: get disciplined or clean up the mess. The girl agreed to clean it up.

Her father says she was handed a hydrogen peroxide mix and steel wool, and then left by herself. He says his daughter wasn't given the proper safety gear, only a pair of plastic gloves.
The girl got the mix on her hands and was told by the teacher to wash it off with water.

The student later complained of pain and was taken to the hospital where she was treated for burns.

Today, the parents filed a report with the Columbus Police Department.

The superintendent says the teacher is now on paid leave while they investigate and that they are taking the issue very seriously.

According to guidelines by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration when handling 30-percent hydrogen peroxide if the skin is not washed promptly, redness and blisters may develop.
When handling the mixture always wear goggles as it could cause severe damage to your eyes.

NBC 15 will continue to follow this story and bring you the latest information as soon as it becomes available.


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