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Health Unit advises evacuated homeowners to take precautions

SIMCOE, JUNE 7, 2012 – 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.

“While the Ministry of the Environment continues to investigate the release of chloropicrin into the air, 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,” said Sandy Stevens, Program Coordinator for the Health Unit’s Healthy Environment Team.

The first, and most important, action residents can take is to seek medical attention immediately if they develop trouble breathing, Stevens noted. 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.

Area residents are also being advised to discard any food that was sitting exposed, such as 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.

“We also recommend that homeowners ventilate their house as best they can, especially low lying areas such as basements and crawl spaces,” added Stevens.

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.

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Media Contact:
Sandy Stevens
Program Coordinator, Healthy Environment Team
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
Ext. 3216 at either 519-426-6170 or 905-318-6623
[email protected]