[New Zealand Poisoning Syndrome (NZPS), Health Bulletin # 1. Exposure to Bromoethane Feb. 6, 2008]
Toxic Hazard Warning:
Bromomethane Exposure in New Zealand !
Tourist cruise ships with up to 1200 passengers in New Zealand’s crowded tourist ports are berthed just meters from open air spots where logs are fumigated with methyl bromide. Report
Methyl bromide (bromomethane) is an odorless, colorless nonflammable gas used to fumigate crops, logs and goods. Bromomethane is on the list of banned ozone-depleting substances of the Montreal Protocol.
Bromomethane: Health Effects Report
The following summary of health effects of exposure to Bromomethane (methyl bromide) is based on various reports including a toxicological report issued by CDC’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Register, ATSDR:
What is Bromomethane?
Bromomethane is a manufactured chemical (nature also produce also bromomethane in minute quantities). Bromomethane is used to kill a variety of pests including rats, insects, and fungi. It is also used to make other chemicals or as a solvent to get oil out of nuts, seeds, and wool.
Bromomethane Affects Your Health
If you inhale bromomethane you may develop a headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and weakness; this may be followed by mental excitement, convulsions and even acute mania. More prolonged inhalation of lower concentrations may cause fluid build up in your lungs and it may be hard to breathe. It could cause bronchitis, pneumonia, muscle tremors, seizures, kidney damage, nerve damage, and even death.
Exposure levels leading to death vary from 1,600 to 60,000 parts of bromomethane in 1 million parts of air (1,600-60,000 ppm), depending on the length of the exposure.
The respiratory, kidney and neurologic effects are of the greatest concern to people.
[Note: Studies in animals suggest at high exposure levels bromomethane causes birth defects and interferes with reproduction.]
Is there a medical test to show whether I’ve been exposed to bromomethane?
Several tests are available to determine if you have been exposed to bromomethane by measuring the toxic residues in your blood or in the air you exhale. However the tests are useful only if they are carried out immediately after exposure is suspected because most bromomethane doesn’t stay in your body long.
For more information, contact:
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
Division of Toxicology
1600 Clifton Road NE, Mailstop F-32
Atlanta, GA 30333
Phone: 1-888-42-ATSDR (1-888-422-8737)
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