PESTICIDE ILLNESS & INJURY SURVEILLANCE
Inhalation of phosphine gas following a fire associated with fumigation of processed pistachio nuts
On December 10, 2009, a fumigation stack containing aluminum phosphide became soaked with rain water and caught fire at a pistachio processing plant in Kern County, California. Untrained plant personnel responding to the fire had exposure to pyrolysis by-products, particulates, and extinguisher ingredients. Ten workers taken for medical evaluation had respiratory and nonspecific systemic symptoms consistent with exposure to phosphine gas. Six of the 10 workers had respiratory distress, indicated by chest pain, shortness of breath, elevated respiratory rate, or decreased oxygen saturation. Recommendations are made for the management of similar illnesses and prevention of similar exposures.
O'Malley M, Fong H, Sanchez ME, Roisman R, Nonato Y, Mehler L. Inhalation of phosphine gas following a fire associated with fumigation of processed pistachio nuts. J Agromedicine 2013; 18:151-173.
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