Global & Disaster Medicine

Archive for the ‘Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT)’ Category

10/23/1989: 23 died and another 130 were grievously injured when a series of explosions sparked by an ethylene leak at a factory rocked Pasadena, Texas.

History Channel


10/20/1944: Two liquid gas tanks explode in Cleveland, Ohio, killing 130 people and injuring more than 200 more.

History Channel


CDC: After Hurricane Florence—Clinical Guidance for Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

CDC

CDC Health Alert Network (HAN) Health Advisory: Hurricane Florence—Clinical Guidance for Carbon Monoxide (CO) Poisoning

CDC issued the following Health Alert Network (HAN) Health Advisory on September 16, 2018. You are receiving this information because you subscribe to COCA email updates. If a colleague forwarded this email to you, yet you would like to receive future updates directly from COCA, click here.

If you have any questions about this or other clinical issues, please e-mail coca@cdc.gov

On behalf of the Clinician Outreach and Communication Activity (COCA)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
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Distributed via the CDC Health Alert Network
September 16, 2018 1345 ET (1:45 PM ET)
CDC HAN-00415

Hurricane Florence—Clinical Guidance for Carbon Monoxide (CO) Poisoning

Summary
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reminding clinicians seeing patients from the areas affected by Hurricane Florence to maintain a high index of suspicion for CO poisoning. Other people who may be exposed to the same CO source may need to be identified and assessed.

The signs and symptoms of CO exposure are variable and nonspecific. A tension-type headache is the most common symptom of mild CO poisoning. Other symptoms may include dizziness, flu-like symptoms without a fever, drowsiness, chest pain, and altered mental status.

Clinical manifestations of severe CO poisoning include tachycardia, tachypnea, hypotension, metabolic acidosis, dysrhythmias, myocardial ischemia or infarction, noncardiogenic pulmonary edema, neurologic findings including irritability, impaired memory, cognitive and sensory disturbances, ataxia, altered or loss of consciousness, seizures, coma, and death, although any organ system might be involved.

Although CO poisoning can be fatal to anyone, children, pregnant women, the unborn, persons with sickle cell disease, older adults, and persons with chronic illness (e.g., heart or lung disease) are particularly vulnerable.

Background
High winds and heavy rain from Hurricane Florence began affecting the southeastern U.S. around September 12, 2018. Impact on the southeast coast and inland led to thousands of people without power.  Those without power may turn to alternate power sources such as gasoline generators and may use propane or charcoal grills for cooking. If used or placed improperly, these sources can lead to CO build up inside buildings, garages, or campers and poison the people and animals inside.

With a focused history of patient activities and health symptoms, exposure to a CO source may become apparent. Appropriate and prompt diagnostic testing and treatment are crucial to reduce morbidity and prevent mortality from CO poisoning. Identifying and mitigating the CO source is critical in preventing other poisoning cases.

Recommendations for Clinicians

  1. Consider CO poisoning in patients affected by Hurricane Florence, particularly those in areas currently without power. Assess symptoms and recent patient activities that point to likely CO exposure. Evaluation should also include examination for other conditions, including smoke inhalation, trauma, medical illness, or intoxication.
  2. Administer 100% oxygen until the patient is symptom-free or until a diagnosis of CO poisoning has been ruled out.
  3. Perform COHgb testing when CO poisoning is suspected. Venous or arterial blood may be used for testing. A fingertip pulse multiple wavelength spectrophotometer, or CO-oximeter, can be used to measure heart rate, oxygen saturation, and COHgb levels in the field, but any suspicion of CO poisoning should be confirmed with a COHgb level by multiple wavelength spectrophotometer (CO-oximeter). A conventional two-wavelength pulse oximeter is not accurate when COHgb is present. For more information, see https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/co_guidance.html.
  4. An elevated carboxyhemoglobin (COHgb) level of 2% or higher for non-smokers and 9% or higher COHgb level for smokers strongly supports a diagnosis of CO poisoning. The COHgb level must be interpreted in light of the patient’s exposure history and length of time away from CO exposure, as levels gradually fall once the patient is removed from the exposure. In addition, carbon monoxide can be produced endogenously as a by-product of heme metabolism. Patients with sickle cell disease can have an elevated COHgb level as a result of hemolytic anemia or hemolysis. For additional information about interpretation of COHgb levels, visit https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/co_guidance.html or call Poison Control at (800) 222-1222.
  5. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBO) should be considered in consultation with a toxicologist, hyperbaric oxygen facility, or Poison Control Center (800) 222-1222. For additional management considerations, consult a toxicologist, Poison Control at (800) 222-1222, or a hyperbaric oxygen facility.
  6. Be aware that CO exposure may be ongoing for others spending time in or near the same environment as the patient. These individuals should be evaluated and tested as described in this advisory.
  7. Clinicians treating people for CO poisoning should notify emergency medical services (EMS), the fire department, or law enforcement to investigate and mitigate the source and advise people when it is safe to return.
  8. Advise patients about safe practices related to generators, grills, camp stoves, or other gasoline, propane, natural gas, or charcoal-burning devices. Stress that that these devices should never be used inside an enclosed space, home, basement, garage, or camper — or even outside near an open window or window air conditioner. Please see https://www.cdc.gov/co/pdfs/generators.pdf.

For More Information
Clinical Guidance for Carbon Monoxide (CO) Poisoning After a Disaster
https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/co_guidance.html

 


What antidotes should you have in your ER?

Antidotes-in-ER_AEM-2017


Victim dies from Novichok exposure


Shoko Asahara, the leader of the Japanese doomsday cult that carried out a deadly 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system, was executed by hanging Friday along with six of his followers.

NPR


Syrian atrocities in eastern Ghouta: UN draft documents use of chemical weapons against civilians

NY Times

“……In attacks on Jan. 13, Jan. 22 and Feb. 1, the draft said, government forces fired chemical agents, “most probably chlorine,” into a residential part of eastern Ghouta’s Douma neighborhood, near a sports stadium, roughly 800 yards from the front lines, between 5 a.m. and 6:30 a.m.

Some witnesses described a “slow-acting agent” that smelled like chlorine, the draft said, and they had sufficient time “to rouse the victims, obtain wet cloths to serve as makeshift face masks, and evacuate the affected areas.”……..Thirty-one people, including 11 children, were sickened in the first three attacks, but none died. Two other episodes of possible chlorine use, on Feb. 25 and March 7, caused more extensive casualties, killing two children, including an infant, and injuring 18 civilians...…..”


How did the Skripals survive Novichok?

BBC

“…..Dr Stephen Jukes, an intensive care consultant at the hospital, said: “When we first were aware this was a nerve agent, we were expecting them not to survive.

“We would try all our therapies. We would ensure the best clinical care. But all the evidence was there that they would not survive.”

Both Skripals were heavily sedated which allowed them to tolerate the intrusive medical equipment they were connected to, but also helped to protect them from brain damage, a possible consequence of nerve agent poisoning.

Over time, the sedation was reduced and the ventilation switched from the mouth to the trachea, as shown by the vivid scar seen on Yulia Skripal’s neck in the TV statement she gave after she was released.

Once the patients became more conscious, staff had to carefully consider what they could tell them without prejudicing the police investigation, and decide on the right moment to allow questioning by detectives.

Medical director Dr Christine Blanshard explained: “Those are very difficult decisions, because on the one hand you want to provide reassurance to the patients that they are safe and they are being looked after, and on the other hand you don’t want to give them information that might cause difficulties with subsequent police interviews.”

It was the doctors and nurses that, out of concern for their patients, insisted that international inspectors obtain a court order before they would be allowed to take blood samples from the Skripals.

Dr Jukes explained: “These are vulnerable patients, they needed some form of advocate and without a court order we could not allow things to happen to them without their consent.”

Once the Skripals were stable and able to speak, the key concern for medical staff was how their production of the key enzyme acetylcholinesterase – needed to re-establish their normal body functions – could be stimulated.

The body will do this naturally after nerve agent poisoning, but the process can take many months.

In trying combinations of drugs, Dr Murray says the hospital received input from “international experts”, some of them from Porton Down.

The laboratory, internationally known for its chemical weapons expertise, processed tests and offered advice on the best therapies.

New approaches to well-known treatments were tried. Dr Jukes said that the speed of the Skripals’ recovery came as a very pleasant surprise that he cannot entirely explain……”


Gaza: Baby dies from tear gas

Washington Post

“…..The dead included at least seven children under the age of 18, among them a 15-year-old girl, the ministry said. The baby was eight months old and died after inhaling tear gas at the main protest area east of Gaza City…..”

 


About 50 to 100 grams of liquid Novichok was used in the March 4 attack on the former Russian spy Sergei V. Skripal and his daughter,

NY Times

‘……….“One thing, perhaps, which is important to note is that the nerve agent seems to be very persistent,” he said. “It’s not affected by weather conditions. That explains, actually, that they were able to identify it after a considerable time lapse. We understand it was also of high purity.”

He said the agent could be applied with an aerosol spray or, “if you take the necessary measures, you could use it as a liquid.”
Health officials have begun a meticulous decontamination process, warning citizens of Salisbury that there might still be toxic “hot spots” in some areas, and that a thorough cleanup may take months.
Though citizens have been reassured that there is little threat to their health, the decontamination promises to be a vast undertaking, requiring backup from 190 army and air force specialists as well as input from the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory, the Home Office and the Ministry of Defense…..’

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