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Officials: Pepper spray to blame for May school evacuation

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Officials say pepper spray that was inadvertently released inside a western Michigan school prompted an evacuation last month and led to about 20 students and staff members being treated for breathing problems. The Diocese of Grand Rapids this week issued a statement with an update on the investigation, saying the student was fiddling with a pepper spray canister that was on a lanyard that also held keys.

Hazardous materials teams responded to Muskegon Catholic Central on May 23 and classes were cancelled for the day. The source of the irritant involved was previously unknown. Reported symptoms included shortness of breath, coughing and chest tightness. Those treated for breathing problems were released from the hospital that day.

About 450 people were in the school at the time of the evacuation.

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