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Epidemic Gasoline Exposures Following Hurricane Sandy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 November 2013

Hong K. Kim*
Affiliation:
New York City Poison Control Center, New York, New York USA Department of Emergency Medicine, New York University School of Medicine, New York, New York USA
Mai Takematsu
Affiliation:
New York City Poison Control Center, New York, New York USA Department of Emergency Medicine, New York University School of Medicine, New York, New York USA
Rana Biary
Affiliation:
New York City Poison Control Center, New York, New York USA Department of Emergency Medicine, New York University School of Medicine, New York, New York USA
Nicholas Williams
Affiliation:
Department of Emergency Medicine, New York University School of Medicine, New York, New York USA
Robert S. Hoffman
Affiliation:
New York City Poison Control Center, New York, New York USA Department of Emergency Medicine, New York University School of Medicine, New York, New York USA
Silas W. Smith
Affiliation:
New York City Poison Control Center, New York, New York USA Department of Emergency Medicine, New York University School of Medicine, New York, New York USA
*
Correspondence: Hong K. Kim, MD, MPH New York City Poison Control Center 455 First Ave. Room 123, New York, NY 10016 USA E-mail hongkimmd@gmail.com

Abstract

Introduction

Major adverse climatic events (MACEs) in heavily-populated areas can inflict severe damage to infrastructure, disrupting essential municipal and commercial services. Compromised health care delivery systems and limited utilities such as electricity, heating, potable water, sanitation, and housing, place populations in disaster areas at risk of toxic exposures. Hurricane Sandy made landfall on October 29, 2012 and caused severe infrastructure damage in heavily-populated areas. The prolonged electrical outage and damage to oil refineries caused a gasoline shortage and rationing unseen in the USA since the 1970s. This study explored gasoline exposures and clinical outcomes in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

Methods

Prospectively collected, regional poison control center (PCC) data regarding gasoline exposure cases from October 29, 2012 (hurricane landfall) through November 28, 2012 were reviewed and compared to the previous four years. The trends of gasoline exposures, exposure type, severity of clinical outcome, and hospital referral rates were assessed.

Results

Two-hundred and eighty-three gasoline exposures were identified, representing an 18 to 283-fold increase over the previous four years. The leading exposure route was siphoning (53.4%). Men comprised 83.0% of exposures; 91.9% were older than 20 years of age. Of 273 home-based calls, 88.7% were managed on site. Asymptomatic exposures occurred in 61.5% of the cases. However, minor and moderate toxic effects occurred in 12.4% and 3.5% of cases, respectively. Gastrointestinal (24.4%) and pulmonary (8.4%) symptoms predominated. No major outcomes or deaths were reported.

Conclusions

Hurricane Sandy significantly increased gasoline exposures. While the majority of exposures were managed at home with minimum clinical toxicity, some patients experienced more severe symptoms. Disaster plans should incorporate public health messaging and regional PCCs for public health promotion and toxicological surveillance.

KimH, TakematsuM, BiaryR, WilliamsN, HoffmanR, SmithS. Epidemic Gasoline Exposures Following Hurricane Sandy. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2013;28(6):1-6.

Type
Original Research
Copyright
Copyright © World Association for Disaster and Emergency Medicine 2013 

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