Short-Term Adverse Health Effects in a Community Exposed to a Large Polyvinylchloride Plastics Fire
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The purpose of this study was the documentation of the short-term morbidity and mortality experiences of an urban community exposed to the airborne byproducts of a large polyvinylchloride plastics fire. The authors administered a survey to representatives of each household who had lived in an area evacuated during the fire. A time-series analysis was performed on emergency room visits and admissions for all hospitals in the city. Chloracne surveillance was instituted. Sixty-two percent of the individuals surveyed from the evacuation area reported no health concerns or symptoms related to the fire. Thirty-eight percent of the residents reported symptoms, and less than 2% of those surveyed reported that they sought medical attention for their health concerns. There was no evidence of increased hospital admissions or emergency room use during and immediately following the fire. No cases of chloracne were reported, and no deaths or serious injuries occurred during the fire. Polyvinylchloride plastics recycling plants pose potential health hazards to civilian populations. Public health authorities should be prepared to assess population health status rapidly and to disseminate relevant health information in a timely way during a crisis.
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