Strange smell identified that caused Ascension school shelter in place
DONALDSONVILLE – Deputies in Ascension Parish say an “intrusive smell” caused two Ascension Parish shools and one building to shelter in place Friday morning.
According to Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office, investigators were looking into the source of the odor around Donaldsonville Primary School. The smell was later identified as herbicide, a substance used to destroy vegetation.
The Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office said that a farmer in the area was spraying his field and stopped due to the wind direction and concern from the schools.
"No students had any symptoms but we had three employees who went to the hospital because they developed some symptoms," said school district spokesperson Jackie Tisdell.
The farmer said that the wind shifted suddenly and carried some of the chemical to the school.
"We didn't do this on purpose," said farmer Jerrel Medine. " [The chemical] doesn't have a cross bones and skull on the container or anything like that, it's just herbicide."
According to the school district, the chemical can cause skin irritation and is harmful if inhaled. The school nurse examined every student at Donaldsonville Primary before sending them home early.
The Ascension Parish Schools central office and Ascension Head Start were also sheltered in place as a precaution.
"We also sent a letter home with parents that explains what the herbicide was and what type of symptoms they can look for just in case something develops over the weekend," said Tisdell.