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May 8, 1937

METHYL CHLORIDE (REFRIGERATOR) GAS POISONING: AN INDUSTRIAL HAZARD

Author Affiliations

NASHVILLE, TENN.

From the Department of Medicine, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

JAMA. 1937;108(19):1603-1605. doi:10.1001/jama.1937.02780190019008
Abstract

Methyl chloride gas is one of the most popular refrigerants used in mechanical refrigeration. Poisoning by this gas attracted sufficient attention in 1929 to warrant an investigation by the American Medical Association. During that year, in a relatively short period, the occurrence of twenty-nine instances of this form of intoxication in Chicago was reported.1 Ten patients of this group died. The report of the Committee on Poisonous Gases of the American Medical Association2 included certain recommendations for the control of that hazard. It may be inferred from the sparsity of reports3 of poisoning by methyl chloride since that time that the advice of the committee had been followed. The appearance of two new cases of methyl chloride poisoning, however, emphasizes the fact that this industrial danger still exists.

REPORT OF CASES  Two white men, 44 and 28 years of age, were engaged in repairing an air conditioning plant located in the basement of a business concern. Ventilation was poor but considered adequate. After two hours of work the older patient noted headache, dizziness and fatigue. He accordingly quit work. The younger man continued to work an additional two hours, at the end of which time he too was forced to stop.

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