Accidental hazardous material releases with human impacts in the United States: exploration of geographical distribution and temporal trends

J Occup Environ Med. 2010 Sep;52(9):920-5. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3181f131dd.


Objective: To investigate the circumstances and geographic and temporal distributions of hazardous material releases and resulting human impacts in the United States.

Method: Releases with fatalities, injuries, and evacuations were identified from reports to the National Response Center between 1990 and 2008, correcting for data quality issues identified in previous studies.

Results: From more than 550,000 reports, 861 deaths, 16,348 injuries and 741,427 evacuations were identified. Injuries from releases of chemicals at fixed facilities and natural gas from pipelines have decreased whereas evacuations from petroleum releases at fixed facilities have increased.

Conclusion: Results confirm recent advances in chemical and pipeline safety and suggest directions for further improvement including targeted training and inspections and adoption of inherently safer design principles.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents / mortality
  • Accidents / statistics & numerical data*
  • Chemical Hazard Release / mortality
  • Chemical Hazard Release / statistics & numerical data*
  • Chemical Hazard Release / trends*
  • Chemical Industry / statistics & numerical data
  • Disasters / statistics & numerical data
  • Fossil Fuels / statistics & numerical data
  • Hazardous Substances*
  • Humans
  • Petroleum / statistics & numerical data
  • Retrospective Studies
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology


  • Fossil Fuels
  • Hazardous Substances
  • Petroleum