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Woman in chemical suicide at hotel identified

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) -- A woman who used a toxic chemical to commit suicide in her room at a historic San Francisco Bay Area hotel and social club has been identified as a former professor at the University of California, Berkeley.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports (http://bit.ly/1iiZgPm ) Sydney Kustu used sodium azide to kill herself Tuesday in her apartment on the third floor of the landmark Berkeley City Club. The newspaper says it was her 71st birthday.

Kustu was a professor emerita in plant and microbial biology at UC Berkeley's College of Natural Resources.

The Berkeley City Club was evacuated but there were no reports of injuries. Kustu left a note warning authorities of the dangerous situation.

Sodium azide is commonly found in cars' air bags to make them inflate. It becomes a toxic gas when mixed with water.

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Information from: San Francisco Chronicle, http://www.sfgate.com

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