CHAPTER TWO: TOXICOLOGIC RESEARCH AND INFORMATION DISSEMINATION
In FY 1999, at the request of EPA's regional offices, other federal agencies,
and state and local agencies, ATSDR emergency-response personnel responded
to requests for information related to 42 (13%) acute events, 227 (42%) time
critical requests, and 247 (45%) non-time critical requests. Emergency-response
staff provided on-site assistance for one acute and two nonacute events.
During these emergencies, ATSDR helped first responders address the public
health needs of about 190 people who were injured and another 3,663 people
who were otherwise affected because of airborne dispersion or who had to be
temporarily evacuated. Thirteen percent of acute-event calls reported injuries,
and 37% reported other problems. The majority of acute release event calls
concerned air releases during a spill or fire in an urban residential or urban
industrial/commercial setting east of the Mississippi River from January
through March, 1999.
Most requests for information during acute chemical releases were from
EPA, local responders, state agencies, or the federal on-scene coordinator. For
incidents other than acute releases, the most frequent requesters for time-
critical support were private citizens, with EPA as the second most common.
The majority of chemical releases resulting in a call to ATSDR involved
releases to the air (both indoor and ambient, 67%) in an urban residential or
industrial/commercial environment (57%). ATSDR also assisted EPA and local
responders in identifying response options to protect public health.
Child Health in Medical Management Guidelines
ATSDR wrote a guidance manual--1999 Guidance for Developing Chemical
Protocols (New or Updated) for Medical Management Guidelines for Acute Chemical
Exposures--for incorporating pediatric concerns into ATSDR's Medical
Management Guidelines ("Managing Hazardous Materials Incidents"). The
Medical Management Guidelines are a series of three volumes aimed at first
responders to emergency hazardous waste releases. The first two volumes are
general, describing procedures and situations common to all hazardous
chemical releases. The third volume is chemical-specific.
Following are summaries of some of the major activities in which ATSDR
emergency-response personnel were involved during FY 1999:
Harris County Mercury Spill, Houston, Texas: ATSDR assisted the Harris
County Health Department in Houston in its response to a mercury spill at the
headquarters of a nonprofit organization. The facility housed a prenatal care
clinic and administrative offices. In addition, noontime meals for the assisted
target population were prepared in the kitchen and transported to clients'