Lansing, MI -- Earlier this month, a catastrophic series of explosions took place at the Chinese port city of Tianjin. The explosions originated at a warehouse filled with hazardous materials. Some media reports have stated that there were 700 tons of sodium cyanide being stored in the location, a safety violation. Managers of the facility have provided limited information to emergency personnel and the Chinese government about exactly which hazardous chemicals and how much of them were being stored at the facility.
The explosions caused widespread property damage and killed over 110 people, injured hundreds and dozens are still missing, including many firefighters.
Sodium cyanide is a toxic chemical that is water-reactive. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), containers of the material may explode when heated or if they are contaminated with water. NIOSH also states, “Sodium cyanide releases hydrogen cyanide gas, a highly toxic chemical asphyxiant that interferes with the body's ability to use oxygen. Exposure to sodium cyanide can be rapidly fatal.”
Chinese regulations require that these types of facilities be at least 1,000 meters from public buildings, residences and highways. A recent media report indicates that it was located within 500 meters of an expressway and a large apartment complex.
“The human tragedy and destruction of property in Tianjin reminds us all that safety regulations must be followed to prevent future disasters like this from occurring again,” said Nicole Greeson, CIH® and Chair of ABIH®. “Globally, the leading providers of occupational health and safety services that protect workers, communities and the environment from these types of hazards are Certified Industrial Hygienists (CIHs). CIHs employed by industry, government agencies and working as private consultants can be instrumental in creating and maintaining safe work environments for employees, including fire-fighters and other first responders, and protecting communities. Their expertise and professionalism can also be essential for helping businesses, communities and the environment recover following these types of disasters.”
To learn more about the American Board of Industrial Hygiene®, Certified Industrial Hygienist® credential or to locate a CIH® to perform industrial hygiene services, please visit www.ABIH.org, email abih@ABIH.org or call (517) 321-2638.
About the American Board of Industrial Hygiene®
Since 1960, ABIH®, a not-for-profit corporation, has been the world's largest, premier organization for certifying professionals in the practice of industrial hygiene. ABIH® is responsible for ensuring high-quality certification including education, experience, examination, certification maintenance and ethics enforcement. Currently, more than 6800 people are certified to use the CIH® designation.