A student and staff members have been taken to hospital as a precaution after a gas leak at the University of Canterbury this evening.

Emergency services were called to the university's biology department about 6.30pm after reports of a large chemical spill.

A university spokesperson said the incident occurred in a laboratory in the School of Biological Sciences building at the Ilam campus.

"The Biological Sciences building was evacuated," the spokesperson said.

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"The student and staff members were assessed at Christchurch Hospital as a precautionary measure and are expected to return home this evening.

"Fire and Emergency services assessed the building as safe and have reopened it for use."

Earlier, a St John spokesman said two staff members were taken to Christchurch Hospital in a moderate condition.

Fire and Emergency said they initially sent three engines, but later upgraded their response.

They isolated the area and Hazmat was attempting to identify the chemical.