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Flea market leak of Freon sends 67 to hospitals

Freon leaking from an ice cream cooler at a flea market was blamed for causing eye and throat irritation that sent 67 people to hospitals, health officials said Monday.

Tests determined that Freon leaked from the freezer Sunday at Dr. Flea's International Flea Market in suburban West Palm Beach, said Tim O'Connor, spokesman for the county Health Department.

Shoppers reported burning eyes, scratchy throats, shortness of breath and tightness in the chest. Authorities evacuated the market and isolated those with health complaints. They were decontaminated in a hot shower set up by Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue's hazardous materials team and taken to area hospitals.

"Within an hour or two their symptoms were gone," said Dr. Randall Wolff, emergency medical director at JFK Medical Center in Atlantis.