In the wake of a recent exposure of a number of Norfolk residents to the soil fumigant chloropicrin, the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit is advising anyone in the affected area to take certain precautions to protect their health.
There are a number of things those who were evacuated from their homes, or those who may have otherwise been exposed to the chemical, should do to safeguard their health, including:
- Seek medical attention immediately if you develop trouble breathing. In some cases, pulmonary edema, which is an accumulation of fluid in the lungs, can occur up to 24-48 hours after exposure to chloropicrin.
- Discard any food that was sitting out and may have been exposed (e.g. fruit on a countertop, butter left out, or open sugar bowls) as a precaution to avoid ingesting residue.
- Children’s toys, countertops, table tops and other surfaces that come into contact with food should be thoroughly washed with soap and water.
- Ventilate your house as best you can, especially low lying areas such as basements and crawl spaces.
- If pets or animals were outside and exposed to the chloropicrin, they may need to be bathed and monitored for any symptoms of distress, including difficulty breathing, coughing or skin irritation. If these symptoms are apparent, the animal should be taken to a veterinarian.
Residents or health care providers with questions about chloropicrin symptoms and treatments can contact the Ontario Poison Centre at 1-800-268-9017. The Poison Centre is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
If you have further health-related questions, feel free to contact the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit’s Healthy Environment Team at 519-426-6170 Ext. 3231 or 3245.