Officials are investigating the cause of an explosion at a scientific research lab at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.
The explosion was reported just after 11 a.m. local time (17:00 GMT) at the McKinley Climatic Lab, prompting concerns the smoke could contain methyl chloride also known as chloromethane.
Initial investigations concluded the smoke contained no methyl chloride.
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, acute exposure to high concentrations of methyl chloride in humans has caused severe neurological effects.
The Pulse Gulf Coast explained: “Exposure to methyl chloride, also known as chloromethane, can produce central nervous system effects similar to drug intoxication, including drowsiness, dizziness, or confusion and difficulty with breathing, walking, or speaking.”
— Laura Hussey (@WEARLauraHussey) July 5, 2017
Residents on the base, and at nearby Niceville and Valparaiso were asked to shelter in place as a safety precaution. A tweet from the Eglin base’s official account asked residents to turn off their air conditioning systems.
Update: Smoke as dissapated. It has not determined smoke contain methyl chloride. Incident did occur in close proximity of chemical.
— Eglin Air Force Base (@TeamEglin) July 5, 2017
The surrounding area was evacuated and a “1,000-foot cordon has been established,” according to the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office.
Elgin air base explosion base on lock down pic.twitter.com/4U81G8QNLJ
— Ice Man Cometh (@ZataraCristo) July 5, 2017
The cause of the explosion remains under investigation.