ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Awareness of Alternative Therapies May Be Lacking
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Meditation, Yoga Might Switch Off Stress Genes
ANIMAL CARE
Beware of Dog Bites
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
BONES & JOINTS
Chronic Low Back Pain Is on the Rise
Most Kids With Type 1 Diabetes Lack Vitamin D
Yoga Can Ease Lower Back Pain
CANCER
Method for Treating Cervical Lesions May Pose Pregnancy Risks
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
Quitting Smoking Doubles Survival in Early Stage Lung Cancer
CAREGIVING
Robots May Come to Aging Boomers' Rescue
Baby's Sleep Position May Not Affect Severity of Head Flattening
U.S. Mental Health Spending Rises, But Many Still Left Out
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Secondhand Smoke Quickly Affects Blood Vessels
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
Exercise May Blunt Salt's Effect on Hypertension
COSMETIC
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
DENTAL, ORAL
Mom's Vitamin D Levels Affect Baby's Dental Health
Gum Disease Treatment Doesn't Cut Preterm Birth Risk
Obesity Boosts Gum Disease Risk
DIABETES
Abnormal Heart Rhythm Boosts Death Risk for Diabetics
Vitamin K Slows Insulin Resistance in Older Men
Findings Challenge Tight Glucose Control for Critically Ill Patients
DIET, NUTRITION
Coffee Beans May Be Newest Stress-Buster
Drinking Your Way to Health? Perhaps Not
Mediterranean Diet Plus Exercise Lowers Alzheimer's Risk
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Hurricane Threats: Time to Batten Down the Hatches
Clear Skies Have Become Less So Over Time, Data Show
Pregnant Rural Women More at Risk
EYE CARE, VISION
When Gauging Age, the Eyes Have It
Time Teaches Brain to Recognize Objects
Magnetic Pulses to Brain Improve Lazy Eye in Adults
FITNESS
Avoiding a Holiday Season of Discontent
Good Warm-Ups Could Halve Sports Injuries
Fall Cleanup Is a Prime Time for Accidents
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
GENERAL HEALTH
Life Expectancy in U.S. Hits New High
'Soda Tax' Wins Health Experts' Support
Mind Exercise Might Help Stroke Patients
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Ginkgo Won't Prevent Heart Attack, Stroke in Elderly
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
More Steps a Day Lead to Better Health
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Boosting Kids' Stroke IQ May Save Lives
Babies Who Eat Fish Lower Eczema Risk
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
MEN'S HEALTH
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
MENTAL HEALTH
Green Spaces Boost the Body and the Mind
Keeping Mentally Active Seems To Keep The Brain Active
Using the Mind to Heal the Heart
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
Breast-Feeding Benefits Moms and Babies
SENIORS
Money May Matter, Health-Wise, in Old Age
Rapid Weight Loss in Seniors Signals Higher Dementia Risk
Many Cancer Survivors Don't Adopt Healthy Lifestyle
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
Soy May Not Lead to Denser Breasts
Being Active an Hour a Day Puts Brakes on Weight Gain
Add your Article

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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