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March 1992

Epidemiologic Notes and Reports Dermatitis Among Workers Cleaning the Sacramento River After a Chemical Spill—California, 1991

Arch Dermatol. 1992;128(3):315. doi:10.1001/archderm.1992.01680130025001

On July 14, 1991, a train tanker car derailed in northern California, spilling 19000 gallons of the soil fumigant metam sodium (sodium methyldithiocarbamate) into the Sacramento River north of Redding. The major breakdown product of metam sodium, methylisothiocyanate (MITC), is a known skin irritant at high concentrations (>1%). By July 21, the concentration of MITC in interval = 1.0-11.8). In addition, the risk of rash for inmates and crew leaders was related to time spent in the river (36% for those in the water <3 hours compared with 92% for those in the water >11 hours (chi-square for linear trend = 8.0; p = 0.005).

The prevalence of water contact and the duration of time in the river were similar for inmates and crew leaders when compared with state and federal workers. However, of the 31 state and federal workers who had lower extremity water contact, 23 (74%) changed immediately to dry clothing before

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