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Technological Hazard – HAZMAT, Chlorine Gas Leak: Shanxi Province, China


Published Date: 2016-04-13 17:04:56
Subject: PRO/EDR> Chlorine gas – China: (Shanxi province)
Archive Number: 20160413.4157720

Date: Wed 13 Apr 2016
Source: GB Times Beijing [edited]

A chlorine gas leak in north China’s Shanxi Province has left dozens of local residents sick, including between 40 and 50 school children. The accident took place at around 5pm on 12 Apr 2017 at a recycling centre in Linyi County, about 30 meters [about 98 feet] away from the nearest school.

Those affected have been taken to a local hospital for treatment, and no deaths have been reported, according to Students have reported abdominal pain and breathing difficulties as a result of the leak, with those experiencing severe symptoms remaining in hospital for observation.

Police have confirmed that the person responsible for the leak has been taken into custody, though no further details have emerged.

Exposure to high levels of chlorine gas, which is widely used in households and chemical industries, can lead to skin irritation, respiratory problems and even loss of vision.

Communicated by:
ProMED-mail from HealthMap Alerts

[Chlorine gas is a pulmonary irritant with intermediate water solubility that causes acute damage in the upper and lower respiratory tract. Occupational exposures constitute the highest risk for serious toxicity from high-concentration chlorine. Mixing of chlorine bleach (sodium hypochlorite) with ammonia or acidic cleaning agents is a common source of household exposure. As with all poisons, the dose determines the toxicity. Exposure to low concentrations of chlorine for prolonged periods may have destructive effects, as might very short-term exposure to high concentrations.

Acute exposures to chlorine gas can result in symptoms of acute airway obstruction including wheezing, cough, chest tightness, and/or dyspnea [difficulty breathing]. These findings are fairly nonspecific, and might be present after exposures to a number of inhaled chemical irritants. Clinical signs, including hypoxemia, wheezes, rales, and/or abnormal chest radiographs may be present.

More severely affected individuals may suffer acute lung injury (ALI) and/or acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Up to 1 percent of exposed individuals die. Humidified oxygen and inhaled beta-adrenergic agents are appropriate therapies for victims with respiratory symptoms while assessments are underway. Inhaled bicarbonate and systemic or inhaled glucocorticoids also have been reported anecdotally to be beneficial. Chronic sequelae may include increased airway reactivity, which tends to diminish over time. Airway hyper-reactivity may be more of a problem among those survivors that are older, those who have smoked, and/or have pre-existing chronic lung disease. Individuals suffering from irritant-induced asthma (IIA) due to workplace exposures to chlorine also tend to have similar characteristics, such as airway hyper-responsiveness to methacholine, and to be older and to have smoked.

Specific biomarkers for acute and chronic exposures to chlorine gas are currently lacking. Animal models for chlorine gas inhalation have demonstrated evidence of oxidative injury and inflammation. Early epithelial injury, airway hyper-responsiveness, and airway remodeling, likely diminishing over time, have been shown. As in humans, ALI/ARDS can occur, becoming more likely when the upper airways are bypassed. Inhalation models of chlorine toxicity provide unique opportunities for testing potential pharmacologic rescue agents.

Below is a listing of possible chlorine effects depending upon the exposure concentrations. Symptoms may vary depending on the degree of exposure. Exposure possibilities include acute low levels, acute high levels, and chronic low levels.

Low-level (3-5 percent, 1-15 ppm [parts per million]) acute exposure:
Most poisonings fall into this category and are caused by household exposure to low-concentration cleaning products. Manifestations are as follows:
– Eye tearing, nose and throat irritation
– Sneezing
– Excess salivation
– General excitement or restlessness

High-level (20 percent, greater than 30 ppm) acute exposure:
In addition to the symptoms seen with low-level exposure, high-level exposure may result in the following:
– Dyspnea: Upper airway swelling and obstruction may occur
– Violent cough
– Nausea and vomiting (with the smell of chlorine in emesis)
– Lightheadedness
– Headache
– Chest pain or retrosternal burning
– Muscle weakness
– Abdominal discomfort
– Dermatitis [skin irritation] (with liquid exposure)
– Corneal burns and ulcerations may occur from splash exposure to high-concentration chlorine products
– Esophageal perforation

Portions of this comment were extracted from and – Mod.TG

A HealthMap/ProMED-mail map can be accessed at:]

See Also


Chemical weapons – Iraq, Syria: chlorine gas, confirmed use 20150718.3520170
Chemical weapons – Syria: chlorine gas, alleged use 20150620.3449320
Chemical weapons – Iraq: chlorine gas exp 20150313.3227032

Chlorine gas exposure – USA (02): (IL) RFI 20141209.3020454
Chemical weapons – Iraq: chlorine gas 20141030.2913879
Chlorine gas exposure – USA: (MI) 20140713.2605795
Chemical weapons – Syria (03): chlorine gas susp 20140525.2496768
Chlorine gas leak – USA (SC) 20050107.0053
Chlorine gas leak – China (Nanchang) 20040425.1154
Chlorine gas leak, fatal – China (Chongqing) 20040418.1078

A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the International Society for Infectious Diseases

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