A HAZMAT instructor shows the correct way
to suit up to respond to a chemical spill.
Photo courtesy of Win Henderson,
Federal Emergency Management Agency
A chemical emergency can be an accident that releases a hazardous amount of a chemical into the environment. Accidents can happen underground, on railroad tracks or highways, and at manufacturing plants. These accidents can result in a fire or explosion and sometimes you may not be able to see or smell anything unusual.
Hazardous chemicals could also be used to intentionally harm people. Chemicals could be stolen from industrial facilities, such as chlorine, ammonia, and benzene. Others are found in nature - the chemical agent Ricin is produced when castor oil is made from castor beans. Some could be made from everyday items including household cleaners.
Until 9/29/2009, the Minnesota Hazardous Substances Emergency Events Surveillance (HSEES) program at the Minnesota Department of Health maintained a database with information about acute (lasting less than 72 hours) hazardous substances emergency releases within Minnesota. The information from that program can still be viewed at:
For more information about chemical hazards, see:
- Chemicals and Hazards
- Meth Lab Program
- Health Concerns Associated with Oil Fires (PDF: 53KB/2 pages)
For more information about chemical emergencies, see:
- Poison Help - Minnesota Poison Control System
- Emergency Preparedness and Response: Chemical Emergencies - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Chemical Emergency Preparedness and Prevention Advisories - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
- Security Tips for Chemical Storage Facilities - Minnesota Department of Agriculture
For data on human exposures, see:
- The National
Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals provides
an ongoing assessment of the U.S. population's exposure to environmental
chemicals using biomonitoring.
- Acute Exposure Guideline Levels (Developed by the National
Academy of Sciences/ National Research Council. AEGLS are used for one-time
exposures with three levels of severity based on length of time exposed.)
- Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR/CDC), provides scientific background on hazardous substances, measuring health effects, emergency response, hazardous waste sites, and educational materials.
- Products of the national Interstate Chemical Terrorism workgroup. MDH staff played a role in developing these products.
- Hazardous Sites and Substances, SAC Unit at MDH
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