Global & Disaster Medicine

Archive for the ‘Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT)’ Category

Dec. 3, 1984: More than 4,000 people died after a cloud of gas escaped from a pesticide plant operated by a Union Carbide subsidiary in Bhopal, India.


About 5,000 barrels of oil, or about 210,000 gallons, gushed out of the Keystone Pipeline on Thursday in South Dakota

NY Times

 


10/20/1944: Two liquid gas tanks explode in Cleveland, Ohio, killing 130 people

History Channel


Benzene & Mercury: Dangerous health pollutants in the Houston environment after Harvey

NY Times :  “High levels of the carcinogen benzene were detected in a Houston neighborhood close to a Valero Energy refinery, local health officials said Tuesday, heightening concerns over potentially hazardous leaks from oil and gas industry sites damaged by Hurricane Harvey….”

NY Times :  “Public health officials are investigating a case of dangerous liquid mercury that appears to have washed or blown ashore here, east of Houston, in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.  Bobby Griffin found the clusters of shiny silver mercury globules scattered across his San Jacinto riverfront property on Tuesday, a few hundred yards from the San Jacinto Waste Pits….”


Arab media and a monitoring group reported that a Syrian chemical weapons production facility was targeted by Israeli military.

BBC

“…..The incident comes a day after UN human rights investigators said they had concluded a Syrian Air Force jet had dropped a bomb containing the nerve agent Sarin on a rebel-held town in April.

At least 83 people were killed in that attack, most of them women and children, according to the investigators……”


the crisis at Crosby has exposed the vulnerability of hundreds of chemical plants in low-lying areas across the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Washington Post

“…..The plant had 19.5 tons of organic peroxides of various strengths, all of them requiring refrigeration to prevent ignition.
But the power went out, and then the floodwaters came and knocked out the plant’s generators. A liquid nitrogen system faltered. In a last-ditch move, the workers transferred the chemicals to nine huge refrigerated trucks, each with its own generator, and moved the vehicles to a remote section of the plant.
That was doomed to fail, too. Six feet of water swamped the trucks, and the final 11 workers gave up. At 2 a.m. Tuesday, they called for a water evacuation and left the plant to its fate…….”

“…..Texas has more than 1,300 chemical plants, a large number of them in low-lying areas near the coast that are vulnerable to flooding. …..”


Houston floods: a toxic stew of chemicals, sewage, debris and waste that still floods much of the city.

NY Times

  • “….Runoff from the city’s sprawling petroleum and chemicals complex contains any number of hazardous compounds. Lead, arsenic and other toxic and carcinogenic elements….”
  • “….hundreds of thousands of people across the 38 Texas counties affected by Hurricane Harvey use private wells….”
  • “….Harris County, home to Houston, hosts more than two dozen current and former toxic waste sites designated under the federal Superfund program. The sites contain what the Environmental Protection Agency calls legacy contamination: lead, arsenic, polychlorinated biphenyls, benzene and other toxic and carcinogenic compounds from industrial activities many years ago…..”
  • “….Damaged refineries and other oil facilities have already released more than two million pounds of hazardous substances into the air this week, including benzene, nitrogen oxide and volatile organic compounds….”

 


wo explosions and plumes of black smoke were reported at a flooded chemical plant in Crosby, Texas .

CNN

 


IM Sodium Nitrite and Sodium Thiosulfate Are Effective Against Acute Cyanide Poisoning

Sodium Nitrite and Sodium Thiosulfate Are Effective Against Acute Cyanide Poisoning When Administered by Intramuscular Injection

Vikhyat S. Bebarta, Matthew Brittain, Adriano Chan, Norma Garrett, David Yoon, Tanya Burney, David Mukai, Michael Babin, Renate B. Pilz, Sari B. Mahon, Matthew Brenner, Gerry R. Boss
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.annemergmed.2016.09.034
p718–725.e4
“…..Results

We found that sodium nitrite and sodium thiosulfate individually rescued 100% of the mice, and that the combination of the 2 drugs rescued 73% of the rabbits and 80% of the pigs. In all 3 species, survival in treated animals was significantly better than in control animals (log rank test, P<.05). In the pigs, the drugs attenuated an increase in the plasma lactate concentration within 5 minutes postantidote injection (difference: plasma lactate, saline solution–treated versus nitrite- or thiosulfate-treated 1.76 [95% confidence interval 1.25 to 2.27]).

Conclusion

We conclude that sodium nitrite and sodium thiosulfate administered by intramuscular injection are effective against severe cyanide poisoning in 3 clinically relevant animal models of out-of-hospital emergency care…..”


The microgravity conditions of the International Space Station (ISS) may hold the key to improving our understanding of how to combat sarin and VX.

NIH

Monday, July 17, 2017

Space station project seeks to crystalize the means to counteract nerve poisons

NIH-supported experiment could lead to improved antidotes.

The microgravity conditions of the International Space Station (ISS) may hold the key to improving our understanding of how to combat toxic nerve agents such as sarin and VX. That is the hope of Countermeasures Against Chemical Threats (CounterACT) project that is part of an initiative at the National Institutes of Health aimed at developing improved antidotes for chemical agents.

“With increasing worldwide concern about the use of chemical weapons, there is significant interest in developing better counteragents,” said David A. Jett, Ph.D., director of the CounterACT program, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), a part of NIH.

Organophosphates (OPs), a family of chemicals that includes several pesticides as well as sarin and VX nerve agents, block the activity of the enzyme acetylcholinesterase (AChE). This enzyme is critical for allowing muscles to relax after they have been stimulated by the nervous system. When the activity of AChE is blocked (for example, by OPs), muscles cannot relax, leading to paralysis and eventually death.

Developing antidotes to this type of poisoning requires detailed knowledge about the structure of the AChE enzyme. Until now, the forces of gravity on Earth have posed a challenge to this area of research. That’s where traveling into space comes in.

In June of this year, samples of the human AChE enzyme were sent to the International Space Station U.S. Laboratory by a team of CounterACT scientists led by Andrey Kovalevsky, Ph.D., Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and Zoran Radić, Ph.D., University of California, San Diego. Using these samples, astronauts are currently growing large crystals of pure enzyme of a size that cannot be formed on Earth due to interference from gravity.

“By taking advantage of the microgravity conditions of the International Space Station, we hope to grow better, more uniform crystals that we are unable to grow on Earth,” said Dr. Kovalevsky.

Once the crystals are grown to a large enough size, they will be returned to Earth and analyzed by a sophisticated imaging method called neutron diffraction that can provide an atomic-level view of the enzyme.

“Using this technique, we will be able to get a closer look at how the enzyme interacts with pesticides and nerve agents and learn about how the bond between the two can be chemically reversed,” said Dr. Radić. “This method would not work on the smaller enzyme crystals that can be grown here.”

Antidotes to OP exposure reactivate AChE by directly breaking its chemical bond with the OP. However, the speed at which the countermeasures available today are able to do this is too slow to be fully effective. This project will help researchers to develop antidotes that break the AChE-OP bond more quickly and that can also be delivered orally, which is another key to dealing with large-scale exposure to nerve poisons.

“Developing better countermeasures against these sorts of nerve agents is a major thrust of our overall program,” said Dr. Jett. “This project is the kind of cutting-edge science we envisioned when we established the CounterACT program.”

This project is made possible through a partnership with NASA’s Center for the Advancement of Science in Space and is part of a larger UCSD-led CounterACT-funded effort that, in addition to Drs. Kovalevsky and Radić, also includes biophysicist Donald Blumenthal, PhD., University of Utah, Salt Lake City. Their goal is to use advanced biophysical techniques to overcome limitations in defining the atomic structure of AChE and develop more effective antidotes against OP-induced inhibition.

The CounterACT program is a trans-NIH effort that is led by the NINDS in close partnership with multiple NIH institutes including the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which provides oversight of the program, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, National Eye Institute, and other NIH Institutes and Centers.

This project is funded in part by the NIH Office of the Director through the NIH CounterACT program and managed by NINDS (NS083451).

The NINDS is the nation’s leading funder of research on the brain and nervous system. The mission of NINDS is to seek fundamental knowledge about the brain and nervous system and to use that knowledge to reduce the burden of neurological disease.

The NIH CounterACT Program supports research to understand fundamental mechanisms of toxicity caused by chemical threat agents and the application of this knowledge to develop promising therapeutics for reducing mortality and morbidity caused by these agents.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

NIH…Turning Discovery Into Health®

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