Acute Toxic Substance Releases
Toxic Substances and Health
Over 5,000 toxic substances have been reported as acutely released since the beginning of data collection by the Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry (ATSDR) in 1996. Most reported incidents involve only one toxic substance or mixture of substances. Some incidents include acute release of several types of toxic substances. ATSDR's National Toxic Substance Incident Program reported that the substances most frequently associated with injuries were carbon monoxide, paints and dye, petroleum, and chemicals used in the production of illicit methamphetamine.
Figure: Top 50 Toxic Substances Released in Reported Incidents,1996-2011
*NOS - Not Otherwise Specified
More information about the top 12 toxic substances reported as released during 2010 and 2011 can be found at the following sites:
Exposure and Risk
Depending on the types of toxic substances and the types of spill, a variety of health effects are possible. Examples include respiratory irritation, headaches, injury, eye irritation, and burns. In 2011, about 30% of reported acute toxic substance releases resulted in at least one injury. Approximately half of those injured were among the general public. Other victims of toxic substance incidents include employees and first responders.
Weather-related disasters such as hurricanes, tornados, floods, extreme heat, rain, and ice can contribute to toxic substance releases. It is important to be aware of local toxic substance sources during weather emergencies.
Everyday items like household cleaners, pool chemicals, fertilizers, and pesticides may be toxic substances. Properly store and dispose of household chemicals to prevent the release of toxic substances around your home.
If you suspect someone has been poisoned by a chemical, call 911 or the national poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. If you suspect that a pet has been poisoned by a chemical, call the Animal Poison Control Center toll-free at 1 -888-426-4435. Report oil and chemical spills to the local authorities or to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) National Response Center at 1-800-424-8802.
Weather-related disasters such as hurricanes, tornados, floods, extreme heat, rain and ice can cause acute toxic substance release incidents. It is important to be aware of toxic substance sources during emergencies. Read more about how to protect yourself from chemicals released during a natural disaster.
Wearing proper personal protective equipment can decrease the risk of injuries in acute toxic substance release incidents. NTSIP estimates that 1/3 of injuries could have been prevented with proper protective equipment.Top of Page