Hawaii preschool students drank Pine-Sol instead of apple juice during snack time after the school accidentally poured them glasses of the cleaning product, health inspectors said.
A classroom assistant at Kilohana United Methodist Church Preschool in Honolulu mistook the cleaning fluid for juice on Nov. 27 “because it has the same color,” according to a Hawaii health department inspection report.
The preschool notified families about what happened and assured parents the school would be “scrutinizing the process of obtaining snacks and refreshments to rule out the smallest possibility of an occurrence like this from happening again,” HawaiiNewsNow reports.
None of the children were hurt, but three girls — one four-year-old and two five-year-olds — were treated by paramedics, though they did not have visible symptoms of illness, HawaiiNewsNow reports.
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The preschool director explained to health inspectors that the assistant found the Pine-Sol container in the kitchen on a clean-up cart while putting together the snack, and brought it back to the classroom where it was poured into cups for the kids. The fluid was in an original Pine-Sol container that was correctly labeled, inspectors said.
Meanwhile, the teacher was taking two children to the bathroom.
But when the teacher got back, the smell of the “apple juice” told her that it wasn’t juice at all. The teacher stopped the kids from drinking any more, the report said.
“Only sips were taken before the lead teacher realized the liquid was not apple juice,” the preschool said, according to HawaiiNewsNow. “The staff responded immediately by calling EMS and police. The children’s parents were immediately notified as well.”
Dry crackers were also served during the morning snack, the health department report said.
Inspectors said there wasn’t any food on the clean-up cart where the Pine-Sol was found.
The classroom assistant was fired, KHON reports. The preschool said the remaining staff are now taking part in required training, according to HawaiiNewsNow.
According to a 2000 case report published in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology, death from Pine-Sol ingestion is rare but possible. In situations where drinking Pine-Sol turns out to be deadly, it’s often due to chemical pneumonitis that happens when pine oil gets into the lungs, the researchers said.
The case report also said Pine-Sol has killed children who drink it, and that drinking the fluid can cause a person’s breath and urine to smell like pine.