Systemic methyl bromide (CH3Br) poisoning with signs and symptoms of varying severity developed in nine greenhouse workers after acute inhalational exposure on two consecutive days. Measurements of CH3Br, carried out at the site within hours after the accident, suggest that exposure on the second day may have been in excess of 200 ppm (800 mg/m3) CH3Br. All workers were admitted for observation. Seven of them were discharged after an uneventful overnight observation and residual symptoms, if any, subsided within three weeks of the accident. Two patients needed intensive care for several weeks because of severe reactive myoclonus and tonic-clonic generalised convulsions. These conditions were unresponsive to repeated doses of diazepam, clonazepam, and diphenylhydantoin but could be suppressed effectively by induction of a thiopental coma that had to be continued for three weeks. In some of the patients prior subchronic exposure to CH3Br, as shown by their occupational histories and high serum bromide (Br-) concentrations, is likely to have been a factor contributing to the severity of their symptoms. A direct association between serum Br- concentrations and the severity of neurological symptoms, however, seemed to be absent. An on site investigation into the circumstances leading to the accident showed the presence of an empty and out of use drainage system that covered both sections of the greenhouse. This was probably the most important factor contributing to the rapid and inadvertent spread of CH3Br.
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