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Chemical fire at toxic waste disposal plant: epidemiologic study of exposure to smoke and fumes.

Authors
Halperin-W; Landrigan-PJ; Altman-R; Iaci-AW; Morse-DL; Needham-LL
Source
J Med Soc N J 1981 Aug; 78(9):591-594
Link
NIOSHTIC No.
00135955
Abstract
Health effects of exposure to fire in a waste chemical disposal factory in New Jersey were investigated. The waste disposal factory consisted of storage tanks, high temperature incinerators, and ancillary buildings. The waste included polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), benzene (71432), methylene-chloride (75092), aniline (62533), and sludge. Those present at the fire included firefighters, company employees, police, paramedics, journalists, and spectators. There were 440 persons surveyed by questionnaire, and soil samples were taken and analyzed by gas chromatography and mass spectrometry. Respiratory symptoms were common: 23 percent had throat irritations, 17 percent had nonproductive coughs, 12 percent had chest pains, 6 percent had productive coughs, and 0.7 percent had hemoptysis. Neurological symptoms included headaches in 37 percent and dizziness in 17 percent. Fourteen percent had nausea or vomiting, and 13 percent suffered skin irritations. Most symptoms occurred on the day of or day after the fire. Firefighters were especially susceptible to respiratory symptoms. There was no evidence of age specific attack or special suffering among those who had a history of heart or lung disease. Laboratory analysis of the soil showed no evidence of benzenes. The authors recommend that firefighters be well protected by respiratory equipment and that toxicology experts be on hand should similar catastrophes occur.
Keywords
Industrial-wastes; Toxic-effects; Respiratory-irritants; Fire-hazards; Occupational-exposure; Safety-equipment; Toxic-vapors; Safety-practices
CAS No.
71-43-2; 75-09-2; 62-53-3
Publication Date
19810801
Document Type
Journal Article
Fiscal Year
1981
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Issue of Publication
9
ISSN
0025-7524
NIOSH Division
DSHEFS
Source Name
Journal of the Medical Society of New Jersey
State
OH; NJ
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