JURUPA VALLEY, Calif. (AP) — Authorities say nine people were taken to the hospital after being exposed to a caustic substance at a California plastics recycling company.

Seven workers had breathing problems or other symptoms while two firefighters who entered the building were taken to the hospital for examination as a precaution but weren't sickened and they were later released, Riverside County fire officials said.

Firefighters answering a report of a medical emergency were sent to the building in Jurupa Valley, east of Los Angeles, at about 10:15 a.m. and they found a worker on the ground, authorities said.

The business recycles empty containers but when one container was cut open gas escaped and was inhaled by seven workers, fire Battalion Chief Andrew Kibby said.

A hazardous materials team went inside and found a caustic chemical at the bottom of the container, Kibby said.

Firefighters hosed down several people before they went to local hospitals.

The company has about 350 employees, authorities said.

For copyright information, check with the distributor of this item, The Press-Enterprise.