First-aid reports of acute chlorine gassing among pulpmill workers as predictors of lung health consequences

Am J Ind Med. 1991;20(1):71-81. doi: 10.1002/ajim.4700200107.


Workers in pulpmills can be exposed to a multitude of gases hazardous to respiratory function, the most common of which is chlorine gas. First-aid reports of acute gas overexposure incidents ("gassings") over an 8 year period were used to generate exposure data on a group of pulpmill workers whose respiratory function had been studied cross-sectionally in 1981 and 1988. Three hundred forty-eight incidents representing 174 workers were identified, 78% of these being treated solely by the first-aid attendant with the administration of O2 and cough suppression medication. Among 316 workers tested during a 1988 respiratory health survey, 78 had at least one chlorine or chlorine dioxide "gassing" incident. There was a significant decrease in the FEV1/FVC ratio (p less than .05) as well as increased risk for workplace associated chest symptoms in this group with at least one "gassing" incident. In an age- and smoking-matched analysis, among workers tested both in 1981 and 1988, there was a greater decline in FEV2/FVC ratio and MMF (p less than .05) in the "gassed" group than in the nonexposed group over the 7 year period of observation. These results emphasize the need for worker protection against accidental chlorine gas exposures.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • British Columbia
  • Chlorine / adverse effects*
  • Chlorine Compounds*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • First Aid
  • Gases / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases / etiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology*
  • Oxides / adverse effects*
  • Paper*
  • Smoking
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Chlorine Compounds
  • Gases
  • Oxides
  • Chlorine
  • chlorine dioxide