Hazardous Substances Emergency Events Surveillance (HSEES) annual report 1995
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Hazardous Substances Emergency Events Surveillance (HSEES) annual report 1995

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      This document is provided by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) ONLY as an historical reference for the public health community. It is no longer being maintained and the data it contains may no longer be current and/or accurate.

      Since 1990, the Agency for Toxic Substances and DiseaseR egistry (ATSDR) has maintained an active, state-based Hazardous Substances Emergency Events Surveillance (HSEES) system to describe the public health consequences associated with the release of hazardous substances. Five state health departments participated in the pilot phase of the surveillance system and began data collection on January 1, 1990. By 1995, the number of participating state health departments had increased to 14. This report summarizes the characteristics of events reported to the surveillance system from January 1, 1995, through December 31, 1995.

      Information on acute hazardous substances emergency events was collected on data collection forms designed by ATSDR. The types of items collected included general information on the event, substance(s) released, victims, injuries, and evacuations. Estimates have been made of the number of people at risk of exposure to a particular event. In 1995, the HSEES data collection form was modified to allow the collection of additional information related to the event, substance(s) released, and victims. The major changes to the data collection form now allow information to be gathered on (1) whether individual substances involved in the event were actually released or threatened to be released, and (2) specific information on the types of responders involved in events. Participating state health departments began collecting data on the revised data collection form in July 1995.

      Several data sources were used to obtain the maximum amount of information about these events. These sources included, but were not limited to, records or oral reports of state environmental protection agencies, police and fire departments, and hospitals. The data obtained were computerized using an ATSDR-provided data entry system, and were sent to ATSDR quarterly.

      The 14 states reported a total of 5,351 events for 1995; 80% of the events occurred at fixed facilities and 20% were transportation related. In 93% of the events only a single substance was released. The most commonly reported substances were "Volatile organic compounds", "Acids", "Other inorganic substances", and the category designated "Other," which included mixtures of substances and substances released so infrequently that they did not merit a separate category. During this reporting period, 402 events (approximately 8% of all events) resulted in a total of 1,689 victims. The most frequently reported injuries sustained by victims were respiratory irritation, nausea and vomiting, eye irritation, and headache. There were a total of 14deaths in all events, and 557 events required evacuations.

      On January 1, 1995, two states were added to the surveillance system, bringing the total of participating state health departments to 14. With less than one-third of all states participating in the HSEES system, the data might not be representative of events in the entire country. However, even though the number of participating states has increased from 5 to14, the findings regarding the distribution of the types of events, the numbers of events with victims and evacuations, and the injuries reported have, overall, been consistent over the years.

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