ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Traditional Chinese Therapy May Help Ease Eczema
Naprapathy: A Hands-On Approach to Pain Management
Massage Therapy Helps Those With Advanced Cancer
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Beware of Dog Bites
Safe Toys for Dogs
BONES & JOINTS
Tequila Plant May Help Fight Bone Loss
Put Your Best Foot Forward Next Year
Genes May Help Drive Rotator Cuff Injury
CANCER
Papaya Could Be a Cancer Fighter
Green Tea May Help Prevent Oral Cancer
Gene Studies Reveal Cancer's Secrets
CAREGIVING
Diabetes Epidemic Now Poses Challenges for Nursing Homes
Older Caregivers Prone to Worse Sleep Patterns
Transition From Home to Hospital Rarely Seamless
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Exercise Extends Life of Kidney Patients
Obesity Linked to Heart Failure Risk
Support Network May Play Role in Benefits of Drinking
COSMETIC
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
DENTAL, ORAL
Scientists Find Gene for Tooth Enamel
Gummy Bears Join Cavity Fight
Laser Technology Spots Cavities Before They Start
DIABETES
Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes Updated
Fish Twice a Week Cuts Diabetics' Kidney Risks
Laughter May Lower Heart Attack Risk in Diabetics
DIET, NUTRITION
Polyunsaturated Fats Really May Lower Heart Risk
Want to Stop Cancer? You Can, Experts Say
Compound in Red Wine Fights Ravages of Age
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Household Chemicals May Affect Cholesterol Levels
Staying Slim Is Good for the Environment
Hurricane Threats: Time to Batten Down the Hatches
EYE CARE, VISION
Kids' Eye Injuries From Golf Clubs Rare But Severe
Nearly 18 Million Will Have Macular Degeneration by 2050
Unconscious Learning: In the Eye of the Beholder?
FITNESS
Almost Two-Thirds of Americans Meet Exercise Guidelines
Bursts of Vigorous Activity Appear to Be a 'Stress-Buffer'
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
GENERAL HEALTH
Lack of Vitamin D Linked to High Blood Pressure
What you need to know about swine flu.
New Options Offered for Sleep Apnea
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Shedding Light on Why Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Help the Heart
Vigorous Exercise Cuts Stroke Risk for Men, Not Women
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Frequent Feedings May Be Making Babies Fat
Keep Safety in Mind While Your Kids Are Cooling Off in the Water
Traffic Seems to Make Kids' Asthma Worse
MEN'S HEALTH
Lots of Sex May Prevent Erectile Dysfunction
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
MENTAL HEALTH
Reminiscing Helps Build Emotional Strength
Drink Away Dementia?
Optimism May Boost Immune System
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Pregnant Women Exposed To Certain Pollutants Could Lower Childs IQ
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
SENIORS
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
Boost In Elderly Population Will Be Felt Worldwide
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Active Young Women Need Calcium, Vitamin D
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Women Who Run May Benefit From Extra Folic Acid
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Preparing for a Chlorine Gas Disaster

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 7 (HealthDay News) -- On a January night in 2005, a freight train with three tanker cars -- each loaded with 90 tons of chlorine -- slammed into a parked locomotive in the center of Graniteville, S.C., a town of 7,000 people about 15 miles from Augusta, Ga.

One tank ruptured during the 2 a.m. collision, releasing between 42 tons and 60 tons of chlorine gas that seeped into a nearby textile mill, where 180 people were working the overnight shift.

Eight people died at the accident scene, at least 525 people were treated in emergency rooms, and 71 people were admitted to nine hospitals in South Carolina and Georgia.

A new study examining the lingering effects of the disaster should serve as a blueprint for larger metropolitan areas looking to prepare for an accidental or terrorist release of the potentially deadly gas, the researchers said.

"This is one of the largest community exposures to chlorine gas since World War I," study lead author David Van Sickle, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholar at the University of Wisconsin, said in a news release issued by The American Journal of Emergency Medicine, which published the report in its January issue.

"It was a tragic disaster that shows us what a significant challenge a large-scale chlorine gas release poses to health-care facilities," he said.

Hospitals need to be able to quickly recognize the signs of chlorine exposure and have enough mechanical ventilators on hand, he added.

Van Sickle was part of a team from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) that studied the accident's resulting health effects.

Chlorine gas is an irritating, fast-acting and potentially deadly inhalant. It's also one of the most widely used toxic chemicals -- water treatment and industrial manufacturing are examples of such use. Much of the 13 million to 14 million tons produced in the United States each year is transported by rail, often through populated areas, the news release said.

New U.S. regulations governing the transportation of rail cargo aim to prevent a similar disaster in a major metropolitan area. And, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has identified a deliberate attack on a chlorine storage tank as a top concern. According to agency estimates, as many as 100,000 people would be hospitalized and 10,000 would die if a chlorine storage tank was attacked in an urban area, according to the release.

Van Sickle and his colleagues tried to learn as much as they could about the health effects from widespread exposure to chlorine gas.

According to the report, many people who were hospitalized showed signs of severe lung damage. More than a third were admitted to intensive care, and 10 percent required mechanical ventilation. Despite their injuries, most recovered quickly and were discharged within a week, according to the release.

"Public health agencies and hospitals across the country can learn a lot from this disaster and be better prepared to help in the next emergency," Dr. James J. Gibson, state epidemiologist and director of the Bureau of Disease Control at the South Carolina DHEC and a co-author of the report, said in the news release. "We continue to monitor area residents for any possible long-term health effects."

More information

To learn more about chlorine, visit the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.



-- HealthDay staff



SOURCE: The American Journal of Emergency Medicine, news release, January 2009

Last Updated: Jan. 08, 2009

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