Open Access Open Access  Restricted Access Subscription or Fee Access

Exposures and symptoms among workers after an offsite train derailment and vinyl chloride release

Jason A. Wilken, PhD, Leah Graziano, BS, Elena Vaouli, MPH, Karl Markiewicz, PhD, Robert Helverson, MSEP, Kimberly Brinker, MSN, MPH

Abstract


Objective: In 2012 in New Jersey, a train derailment resulted in the puncture of a tanker car carrying liquid vinyl chloride under pressure, and a resulting airborne vinyl chloride plume drifted onto the grounds of a nearby refinery. This report details the investigation of exposures and symptoms among refinery workers.

Design and setting: The investigation team met with refinery workers to discuss their experience after the derailment and provided workers a self-administered survey to document symptoms and worker responses during the incident. Associations among categorical variables and experiencing symptoms were evaluated using Fisher’s exact test.

Participants: Twenty-six of 155 (17 percent) workers present at the refinery or driving on the access road the date the spill occurred completed the survey.

Main outcome measure(s): Any self-reported symptom following exposure from the vinyl chloride release.

Results: Fifteen workers (58 percent) reported 1 symptom, most commonly headache (12, 46 percent). Three (12 percent) reported using respiratory protection. No differences in reporting symptoms were observed by location during the incident or by the building in which workers sheltered. Workers who moved from one shelter to another during the incident (ie, broke shelter) were more likely to report symptoms (Fisher’s exact test, p = 0.03); however, there are only limited data regarding vinyl chloride concentrations in shelters versus outside.

Conclusions: Breaking shelter might result in greater exposures, and managers and health and safety officers of vulnerable facilities with limited physical access should consider developing robust shelter-in-place plans and alternate emergency egress plans. Workers should consider using respiratory protection if exiting a shelter is necessary during a chemical incident.


Keywords


chemical hazard release, vinyl chloride, workplace

Full Text:

PDF

References


National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB): NTSB Hazardous Materials Group Chairman’s Factual Report. Washington, DC: US Department of Transportation, NTSB, 2013. Available at http://dms.ntsb.gov/public/54000-54499/54197/530586.pdf. Accessed May 30, 2014.

New Jersey Department of Health: Health Consultation: Air Quality in Paulsboro, New Jersey Following a Train Derailment and Vinyl Chloride Gas Release. Trenton, NJ: New Jersey Department of Health, 2014. Available at http://www.nj.gov/health/ceohs/documents/pau/air_quality_report.pdf. Accessed July 6, 2015.

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR): Toxicological Profile for Vinyl Chloride. Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, 2006. Available at http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/tp.asp?id=282&tid=51. Accessed May 29, 2014.

National Research Council: Vinyl chloride acute exposure guideline levels. In Committee on Acute Exposure Guideline Levels (eds.): Acute Exposure Guideline Levels for Selected Airborne Chemicals. Vol 11. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2012: chap 5, 257-337.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): Technology Transfer Network 1996 National-Scale Air Toxics Assessment. Available at http://www.epa.gov/ttn/atw/nata/tablexp.html. Accessed May 4, 2015.

Brinker K, Lumia M, Markiewicz KV, et al.: Assessment of emergency responders following vinyl chloride release from a train derailment—New Jersey, 2012. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2015; 63(53): 1233-1237.

Sorensen JH, Shumpert BL, Vogt BM: Planning for protective action decision making: Evacuate or shelter-in-place. J Hazard Mater. 2004; A109: 1-11.

Kinra S, Lewendon G, Nelder R, et al.: Evacuation decisions in a chemical air pollution incident: Cross sectional survey. BMJ. 2005; 330(7506): 1471-1474.




DOI: https://doi.org/10.5055/ajdm.2015.0198

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.