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    DCF workers still hospitalized after Palm Bay office cleared

    ©Associated Press
    October 23, 2002

    PALM BAY -- Three workers remained hospitalized Tuesday, a day after they were evacuated from a state office along with dozens of colleagues and treated for breathing problems.

    The local Department of Children and Families' economic services office reopened Tuesday, after 40 staff members and one or two clients were taken to area hospitals Monday morning.

    Workers complained of shortness of breath, dizziness, throat irritation, watery eyes and other symptoms of respiratory distress.

    The names and conditions of the workers who remain hospitalized were not immediately known.

    Fire officials cleared the building, then let remaining DCF staff back in Monday afternoon after air quality tests showed no contaminants in the ventilation system, said Yvonne Vassel, spokeswoman for DCF District 7.

    A bomb squad found nothing.

    "We believe it was either mace or pepper spray," Vassel said. "No dispenser has been found."

    Results on further tests by the health department of air samples would not be ready for several days, she said.

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