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MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2011 Jul 22;60(28):951-4.

Chlorine gas exposure at a metal recycling facility--California, 2010.


On June 8, 2010, chlorine gas was released from a ruptured, 1-ton, low-pressure tank being recycled at a California metal recycling facility. A total of 23 persons, including employees, customers, and workers at nearby businesses, were treated for the effects of the fumes at seven area hospitals. Chlorine is a corrosive, greenish-yellow gas that is heavier than air and can cause severe respiratory damage; it is used widely in water purification, sewage treatment, and disinfectant washes for foods. Following the incident, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and CDC collaborated with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) on an Assessment of Chemical Exposures (ACE) to determine 1) the circumstances surrounding those exposed during the chlorine gas release, 2) health effects associated with exposures, and 3) recommendations for preventing recurrences. This report describes the chlorine gas release in California and summarizes the results of the ACE investigation. Of 29 persons potentially exposed to chlorine gas, 27 were interviewed to collect information regarding their exposures. In addition, information regarding acute health effects and symptoms was abstracted from medical records. At the time of the chlorine gas release, 15 persons were outdoors, and 13 were exposed for >30 minutes before they were decontaminated. Twenty-three persons reported experiencing one or more upper or lower respiratory tract symptoms within 24 hours of exposure; six persons were hospitalized for 1-11 days. Based on these findings, CDPH issued a statewide alert to all recycling facilities on how to handle containers with potential hazardous waste.

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