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November 2, 1984

Two Fatalities After Acute Occupational Exposure to Ethylene Dibromide

Author Affiliations

From the Northern California Occupational Health Center, the San Francisco General Hospital Medical Center, the Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco (Drs Pond, Osterloh, Wade, and Becker); and the Hazard Evaluation System and Information Service of the Department of Health Services, Berkeley, Calif (Dr Letz).

JAMA. 1984;252(17):2428-2431. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03350170030014

A worker collapsed while working inside a tank that was later found to contain residues of ethylene dibromide. He died 12 hours later with metabolic acidosis, depression of the CNS, and laboratory evidence of liver damage. A supervisor attempting to rescue the first victim also collapsed inside the tank and died 64 hours later with intractable metabolic acidosis and hepatic and renal failure. The clinical, pathological, and toxicological findings, as well as results of industrial hygiene sampling, are reported. Pathophysiological mechanisms and possible therapeutic interventions are discussed. The cases demonstrate the extreme hazards of exposure to the highly toxic chemical. The importance of protective work practices wherever there is potential exposure to ethylene dibromide is emphasized.

(JAMA 1984;252:2428-2431)