ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Awareness of Alternative Therapies May Be Lacking
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Tai Chi: An Ideal Exercise for Many People with Diabetes
ANIMAL CARE
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
Low Vitamin D Raises Women's Hip Fracture Risk
More Faces Being Spared in Motor Vehicle Accidents
Vitamin C Protects Some Elderly Men From Bone Loss
CANCER
Broccoli May Help Battle Breast Cancer
No Verdict Yet on Grape Seed Extract vs. Breast Cancer
Supplement Hampers Thyroid Cancer Treatment
CAREGIVING
Preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome
Study Casts Doubt on Influential Hospital Safety Survey
Late-Life Fatherhood May Lower Child's Intelligence
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
Years of Exposure to Traffic Pollution Raises Blood Pressure
Anemia Rates Down for U.S. Women and Children
COSMETIC
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
DENTAL, ORAL
Mom's Vitamin D Levels Affect Baby's Dental Health
Acid Drinks Blamed for Increase in Tooth Erosion
Gum Care Helps Control Type 2 Diabetes and Its Complications
DIABETES
Vitamin K Slows Insulin Resistance in Older Men
Poor Blood Sugar Control After Heart Surgery Impacts Outcomes
Formula Puts Doctor, Patient Glucose Readings on Same Page
DIET, NUTRITION
Fruit Even Healthier Than Thought: Study Shows
Soluble Fiber, But Not Bran, Soothes Irritable Bowel
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Short-Term Air Pollution Exposure May Damage DNA
Air Pollution May Cause Appendicitis: Study Reveals
Stomach Germ May Protect Against Asthma
EYE CARE, VISION
Don't Lose Sight of Halloween Safety
Americans Losing Sight of Eye Health
Drinking Green Tea May Protect Eyes
FITNESS
Avoiding a Holiday Season of Discontent
Run for Your Life
Fitness Fades Fast After 45
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
GENERAL HEALTH
Regular Yoga May Improve Eating Habits
More Calcium And Dairy Products in Childhood Could Mean Longer Life
Lack of Vitamin D Linked to High Blood Pressure
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Coffee Is Generally Heart-Friendly
Man's Best Friend Helps Mend Broken Hearts
Fewer Heart Attacks After England Goes Smoke-Free
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
Music of Mozart Soothes the Preemie Baby
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
MEN'S HEALTH
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
Countdown to Hair Loss
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
MENTAL HEALTH
Using the Mind to Heal the Heart
Drink Away Dementia?
Have a Goal in Life? You Might Live Longer
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
For Baby and Mom Alike, Breast-Feeding May Be Best
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
SENIORS
Video Gaming Just Might Fight Aging
For a Healthier Retirement, Work a Little
Mediterranean Diet Plus Exercise Lowers Alzheimer's Risk
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Postmenopausal Women With Breast Cancer Face Joint Issues
Rheumatoid Arthritis Rising Among U.S. Women
Flame-Retardant Chemical Linked to Conception Problems
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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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