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Source: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5436a2.htmImproper Disposal of Hazardous Substances and Resulting Injuries --- Selected States, January 2001--March 2005
Many consumer and industrial products, including fuels, solvents, fertilizers, pesticides, paints, and household cleaning disinfectants, contain hazardous substances. Improper disposal of these materials can lead to unexpected releases of toxins that are hazardous to humans and harmful to the environment. This report summarizes all known events involving improper disposal of hazardous substances reported to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) during January 2001--March 2005, describes four illustrative case reports, and provides recommendations for preventing injury resulting from improper disposal.
ATSDR maintains the Hazardous Substances Emergency Events Surveillance (HSEES) system to collect and analyze data about the public health consequences (i.e., morbidity, mortality, and evacuation) of hazardous-substance--release events.* The information in this report is based on events reported to HSEES from 18 participating state health departments† during January 2001--March 2005.§ Improper disposal events are defined as events in which a hazardous substance is placed in municipal waste and subsequently causes a release or potential release that requires (or would have required) removal, clean-up, or neutralization according to federal, state, or local law.
Summary of HSEES Data
A total of 36,784 events involving release of hazardous substances were reported to HSEES during January 2001--March 2005. Of these, 107 (0.3%) were associated with improper disposal. All 18 states reported this type of event, with New York (47 [44%] events) and Washington (13 [12%]) reporting the most events. Sixteen (15%) events involved fires or explosions. Of the 159¶ known improper disposal locations, releases occurred most frequently in residential (59 [37%]) and commercial settings (53 [33%]). Of the 284** total substances involved in improper disposal events, the most common substances were hydrochloric acid (24 [8%]), acid not otherwise specified (15 [5%]), and iodine-131 (six [2%]).
Of the 107 events, 35 (33%) resulted in injuries to 69 persons, 64 (93%) of whom were categorized as employees. HSEES does not collect specific information on type of employee injured (e.g., sanitation worker). However, evaluation of the comment field on incidence reports indicated that more than half (39 [57%]) of the 64 injured employees were sanitation workers.
The 69 injured persons had a total of 101 reported injuries, most frequently respiratory irritation (46 [46%]), dizziness or other central nervous system symptoms (12 [12%]), eye irritation (11 [11%]), and burns (nine [9%]). Forty-two (61%) injured persons were treated at hospitals but not admitted, 11 (16%) were treated at the scene, four (6%) were examined by private physicians, three (4%) were treated at hospitals and admitted, and three (4%) were sent to hospitals for observation. The remaining six (9%) persons experienced adverse health effects within 24 hours of exposure; these injuries were reported through official channels (e.g., fire or police departments, emergency medical services, or poison control centers). No deaths occurred.
Evacuation was ordered for 13 (12%) of the 107 events. The number of evacuees was known for nine of the events, for which 74 persons were known to have evacuated; the number of persons per event ranged from two to 25 (median: six persons per event). The median length of evacuation was 3 hours (range: 1--82 hours).
Of the 97 (91%) events for which decontamination status was known, decontamination of potentially exposed persons was necessary in 31 (32%) events. Ninety-two persons were decontaminated; of these, 61 (66%) were emergency responders, 29 (32%) were employees (i.e., sanitation workers or employees of the industry involved in the release), and two (2%) were members of the general public.