Expert Available to Explain Effects of Chlorine Gas on Humans

Article ID: 692828

Released: 13-Apr-2018 4:35 PM EDT

Source Newsroom: University of Alabama at Birmingham

Expert Pitch
  • Credit: UAB Public Relations

    Sadis Matalon, Ph.D.

Sadis Matalon, Ph.D.

Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine
Director, UAB Pulmonary Injury and Repair Center

Areas of expertise:

  • Lung injury
  • Effects of chlorine and other harmful gases to the lung

 

During the last ten years, Matalon and his collaborators have been funded by NIEHS through the CounterACT Program to investigate the basic mechanisms by which halogen gases — such as chlorine — damages the lungs and systemic organs and based on these studies to develop countermeasures which when administered post exposure decrease mortality and morbidity. 

Key points from Dr. Matalon:

  • Humans exposed to chlorine gas develop irritation of the mucous membranes, damage to the eyes (which may result in blindness), difficulty in breathing and at higher doses extensive lung injury which may cause death from respiratory failure.  In addition exposure to chlorine may damage the cardiovascular system, our research shows that antioxidants (such as Vitamin C) and nitrite (a breakdown product of nitric oxide) given in animals post exposure decrease mortality and reverse lung injury. Humans exposed to chlorine are given supportive treatment such as  oxygen, steroids and bronchodilators. 
  • Cl2 is a dense, acrid, pungent, greenish-yellow gas which is heavier than air.
  • More than 11 million tons of Cl2 are produced annually in the USA.
  • Over the past 10 years, there have been hundreds of accidents involving chlorine nationwide, injuring thousands.
  • Chlorine is commonly used to purify drinking water, treat swimming pools and disinfect contaminated surfaces or areas. It is also used in many industrial processes. 
  • Chlorine has been used as a chemical weapon during the first world war, by insurgents in Iraq (where explosive devises were combined with chlorine cylinders) and most recently in Syria.


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