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Korean J Aerosp Environ Med. 2004 Mar;14(1):26-29. English. Original Article.
Song J , Calvert GM .
Hanyang University, Korea.
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

To describe the consequences and recommendations for prevention and minimizing the victims from the accident of massive pesticide release, the authors analyzed the process of the accident. On October 13, 1999, at a farm supply retail establishment in Immokalee, Florida, a forklift tine perforated a large cylinder containing methyl bromide and chloropicrin. The retailer estimated that 940 pounds of the fumigant was released into the air. As a result, at least 30 individuals developed acute pesticide-related illness. In addition to the forklift operator, 24 workers were working at a neighboring tomato-packing house. Other individuals included two truck drivers, and three law enforcement officers responding to the incident. All 30 workers missed at least one day of work as a result of their illness, and four required hospitalization. The initial symptoms included headache, dizziness, nausea or vomiting. Two individuals have persistent neurological or ophthalmologic problems. Upon investigation it was determined that prompt evacuation was required to prevent many of the illnesses. Releases of 1,000 or more pounds of methyl bromide must be reported immediately to the National Response Center (NRC). Four hours after the 940-pound release, it was reported to NRC. A truck driver who was told to leave the tomato-packing house by the retailer initially reported this incident to emergency response authorities. This incident suggests that substantial releases should be reported immediately to the local police, fire rescue, and the National Response Center to allow a timely evacuation to be conducted as necessary. The threshold for promptly reporting unintentional methyl bromide releases may be too high, thereby leading to morbid consequences.

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