Know and Understand Chemical Emergencies
A chemical emergency occurs when
a hazardous chemical has been released and the release has the potential for
harming people's health. Chemical releases can be unintentional, as in the case
of an industrial accident, or intentional, as in the case of a terrorist
A chemical attack is the planned release of a
toxic gas, liquid or solid that can poison people and the environment. A few
examples of chemical agents are mustard gas, sarin gas and arsenic.
Possible Signs of a
Many people suffering from watery eyes, twitching, choking,
having trouble breathing or losing coordination.
Many sick or dead birds, fish or small animals are also
cause for suspicion.
If You See Signs of
Chemical Attack: Find Clean Air Quickly
Try to identify from where the chemical is coming.
Take immediate action to get away.
If the chemical is inside a building where you are, try get
out of the building without passing through the contaminated area.
If you cannot get out of the building or find clean air
without passing through the area where you see signs of a chemical attack, it
may be better to move as far away as possible and shelter-in-place.
If you are outside, quickly decide what is the fastest way
to find clean air. Consider if you can get out of the area or if you should go
inside the closest building and shelter-in-place.
If You Think You Have
Been Exposed to a Chemical
If your eyes are watering, your skin is stinging
and you are having trouble breathing, you may have been exposed to a
If you think you may have been exposed to a chemical,
immediately take off your clothes, shower and wash with soap.
If a shower is not available, look for a hose, fountain, or
any source of water, and wash with soap if possible, being sure not to scrub the
chemical into your skin.
Seek emergency medical attention.
Types and Categories of
Bio toxins—poisons that come from plants or
Blister agents—chemicals that severely
blister the eyes, respiratory tract, and skin on contact.
Blood agents—poisons that affect the body
by being absorbed into the blood.
Acids—chemicals that burn or corrode
people’s skin, eyes and mucus membranes (lining of the nose, mouth, throat and
lungs) on contact.
Choking agents—chemicals that cause severe
irritation or swelling of the respiratory tract (lining of the nose and throat,
Incapacitating agents—drugs that make
people unable to think clearly or that cause an altered state of consciousness
Long-acting anticoagulants—poisons that
prevent blood from clotting properly, which can lead to uncontrolled bleeding.
Metals—agents that consist of metallic
Nerve agents—highly poisonous chemicals
that work by preventing the nervous system from working properly.
Organic solvents—agents that damage the
tissues of living things by dissolving fats and oils.
Riot control agents/tear gas—highly
irritating agents normally used by law enforcement for crowd. control or by
individuals for protection (for example, mace)
Toxic alcohols—poisonous alcohols that can
damage the heart, kidneys and nervous system.
Vomiting agents—chemicals that cause
nausea and vomiting.
For more information visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and from Ready