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Fumigant intoxication during transport of grain by railroad.
Feldstein A; Heumann M; Barnett M
J Occup Med 1991 Jan; 33(1):64-65
A previously unreported source of exposure of workers to fumigants was described. Three federal grain inspectors with the United States Department of Agriculture in Portland, Oregon, were exposed to phosphine (7803512) while inspecting wheat on an unplacarded railroad train. The grain sampler opened the first railroad car in the shipment and noted a gray deposit on the grain and a garlicky smell, which suggested to him aluminum-phosphide (20859738) contamination. The second worker began collecting grain samples while the first worker continued to open the cars. Upon opening the seventh car there was an immediate and overpowering blast of fumigant odor. Even though the workers immediately closed the door to the seventh car, they were wearing no respiratory equipment, and within an hour were seeking treatment at a local emergency room. The grain in several of the railroad cars was sampled after at least 20 minutes of aeration. One car had a phosphine level of 159 parts per million (ppm), another car had a phosphine level of 298ppm, and the seventh car had a phosphine level of 2029ppm. The authors suggest that unaerated railroad cars carrying fumigated grain may be an important source of fumigant exposure in addition to those sources already described in the literature. Minimum preventive steps should include better work education about health risks, better enforcement of placarding fumigated shipments, and better use of respiratory protection by grain inspectors opening railway cars.
JOCMA7; NIOSH-Publication; NIOSH-Cooperative-Agreement; Toxic-gases; Grain-dusts; Food-processing-industry; Agricultural-chemicals; Respiratory-protection; Personal-protective-equipment; Safety-practices; Organic-vapors; Occupational-exposure
Issue of Publication
Journal of Occupational Medicine
Page last reviewed: September 11, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division