Environment & Sustainability
CHEMICAL INCIDENTS & EMERGENCIES
The release just after midnight Dec. 3, 1984 of methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas from a Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal, India changed forever the way we prepare for and evaluate the hazard from industrial operations. Reports of as many as 8000 immediate deaths and multi-systemic injuries affecting over 500,000 people identified the critical need to maintain control over facilities using hazardous materials. The environmental health professional plays a key role in maintaining these controls.
In addition to becoming prepared through coursework in the basic sciences, environmental health students study issues affecting chemical incidents and emergencies in their specialized courses. Of particular note is Hazardous Material Management (ENVH 405). Students learn how chemicals are controlled at the source, through use, as managed as waste. In the Environmental Toxicology (ENVH 407), course, students learn more about how chemicals threaten public and environmental health, and how we evaluate and control this threat.
A wealth of information is available on-line providing information about chemical incidents and emergencies. Below are listed a few course resources for starting additional exploration.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has developed a useful webpage providing information and links on emergency preparedness and response. Information provided is useful at the national, state and local levels.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency maintains a useful webpage listing its programs, partners, and information resources for emergency management.
The World Health Organization (WHO) will provide assistance following a chemical spill emergency. Along with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the International Labour Organisation (ILO), WHO sponsors the International Program on Chemical Safety (IPCS). The IPCS provides tremendous coverage of multiple aspects of chemical incidents.