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Chemical Emergencies

Hazmat training imageA 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:

For more information about chemical emergencies, see:

For data on human exposures, see:

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Updated Friday, June 06, 2014 at 07:18AM