Illnesses Associated with Chloropicrin use in California Agriculture, 1992 – 2003
Chloropicrin was initially synthesized in 1848 by addition of bleaching powder to picric acid, and was initially patented in 1908 for use as an insecticide in the fumigation of stored grains and for nematode soil treatments.
During WW I, chloropicrin was used as a tear gas and was the subject of several experimental studies with small numbers of volunteer subjects. In 1921, Fries and West reported on the ocular dose response for four subjects: the time to involuntary eye closure for chloropicrin concentrations was between 2 and 38 sec, at concentrations between 2 and 20 ppm (Fries and West 1921). Concentrations below 1–2 ppm produced “considerable blinking” but not eye closure. Flury and Zernik (1931) summarized the results of German studies (original citation by Gildemeister and Heubner 1920) on chloropicrin. These studies demonstrated that chloropicrin concentrations of 0.3–3.7 ppm produce involuntary eye closure within 3–30 sec. Concentrations of 15 ppm could not be tolerated by unhabituated subjects for longer than 1 min (Flury and Zernik 1931). In addition to intense eye irritation, wartime exposure to chloropicrin was associated with coughing and severe gastrointestinal effects, which included persistent nausea, vomiting, colic, and diarrhea (Fries and West 1921; Prentiss 1937).
KeywordsTreated Field Methyl Bromide Sensory Irritation Emergency Responder Kern County
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