The two city of Santa Cruz truck drivers reported a hazardous materials spill around 6:30 a.m. Tuesday after they noticed fumes coming from their garbage truck load.
A spill response crew from the Santa Cruz County Environmental Health and the Santa Cruz Fire Department responded and neutralized the acid in the truck. The truck was taken to a landfill and the load was buried.
The drivers declined treatment, but the following day they experienced headaches and had difficulty breathing. They were evaluated and determined to have been exposed to toxic levels of an unspecified gas.
Placing acids or other hazardous materials in trash or recycling containers or pouring them down a sink, toilet or into a storm drain is illegal, according to the public works department.
Mary Arman, a public works operations manager, said doing so causes injuries to employees and fires in trucks and at the landfill.
Such chemicals, including acids, alkalis, ammonia, bleach, pesticides, solvents and fuels should instead be properly disposed at a hazardous waste drop-off center.