Risk factors for adverse health effects following hazardous materials incidents

Jefferey L. Burgess, Dana F. Kovalchick, James F. Lymp, Kelly B. Kyes, William O. Robertson, Carl A. Brodkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


To identify risk factors for persistent morbidity, we conducted a prospective study of individuals involved in hazardous materials incidents reported to the Washington Poison Center. Between December 1997 and October 1999, 202 subjects in 87 incidents were surveyed by telephone. Medical symptoms persisting for a minimum of 8 days after the incident were reported in 51 (25%) subjects, and 18 (9%) left work or school for more than 2 days because of the exposure. Medical intervention was reported in 46 (58 %) of 79 subjects for whom medical records were available, and objective abnormalities were found in 57 (72 %). Multiple logistic regression analysis indicated that subjects with dermal exposures, three or more alcoholic drinks per week, and previous use of psychiatric medications were more likely to report persistent symptoms. Divorced, widowed, or separated subjects, asthmatic subjects, and those having initial dermal symptoms were more likely to miss work or school for more than 2 days. Of patients evaluated at a health care facility, subjects with preexisting hypertension were more likely to receive medical treatment or have objective medical findings, whereas those with inhalation exposures and those decontaminated at the scene were less likely to be treated or have abnormalities. In our study, both incident and individual factors were predictive of adverse health effects, and these findings should be considered in planning the care of patients involved in hazardous materials incidents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)558-566
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of occupational and environmental medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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