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Alameda County coroner's employees become ill after body bag opened

Alameda County coroner's employees sickened after body bag containing decomposing body is opened

More than a dozen people became ill Wednesday after an employee opened a body bag containing a badly decomposed body at the Alameda County Coroner's Bureau.

One of the 15 employees who complained of eye and throat irritation was taken to a hospital for further evaluation, said Battalion Chief Emon Usher of the Oakland Fire Department.

A funeral home had dropped off the man's body this week at the Coroner's Bureau. His decomposing body was discovered July 16, Usher said, adding that he did not know the details about the man's death.

An employee opened the bag just before noon Wednesday, exposing the man's body, which had been covered in powder known as Smelleze.

The powder is an eco-friendly corpse deodorizer, Usher said.

Soon after, employees began complaining of irritation, and fire officials were called to the scene.

The Fire Department's Hazmat team took a sample of the powder, which Usher said was found to be safe.

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