After Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in 2017, leaving some of the islands' residents without water, national headlines exposed concerns over the possible presence of chloroform and other industrial chemicals coming from a well that was temporarily put in use to provide drinking water during the recovery efforts.
Chloroform (CHCl3) is as a colorless liquid that can quickly evaporate into a gas. Other names for chloroform include trichloromethane and methyl trichloride. Many people are familiar with this chemical because of its past use as an anesthetic for surgical procedures, but it was also used as a solvent for the extraction of fats, oils, greases and other products; as a dry cleaning spot remover; as a fumigant; and was even found in some fire extinguishers. Due to these past uses, chloroform can be found at many contaminated sites. This is why the well that was near one of these sites raised health concerns following the hurricane in Puerto Rico.
Currently, chloroform is used in some refrigerants, solvents and for chemical manufacturing. In addition to chloroform being released from hazardous waste sites and landfills, it can also be released from some pulp and paper mills and chlorinated water. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) lists examples of workers that could be at risk of exposure to chloroform, they include:
- Workers involved in paper manufacture or recycle industries
- Service employees exposed to some air conditioner refrigerants
- Equipment operators working at sanitary landfills
- Workers employed at water treatment plants
“Exposure to chloroform in the air or from contaminated water is a concern as the National Toxicology Program (NTP) lists chloroform as reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen,” said Harry Pena, President of Zimmetry Environmental. “There are also other health concerns due to short-term and long-term exposures. According to the EPA, these include central nervous system depression as well as effects on the liver, including hepatitis and jaundice.”
Protecting workers and the public from chemical hazards, and keeping companies in regulatory compliance, are the environmental and industrial hygiene experts at Zimmetry Environmental. They provide their services in Puerto Rico and throughout the Caribbean. Zimmetry also recently sponsored an educational video about chloroform and potential exposure risks that can be seen at: https://youtu.be/D0IyJlbTOO0
To learn more about Zimmetry Environmental and their industrial hygiene, environmental, air quality, compliance and consulting services, please visit www.zimmetry.com, call (787) 995.0005 or email firstname.lastname@example.org .
About Zimmetry Environmental
Since 2002, Zimmetry Environmental has been providing environmental consulting services to building owners and managers, architects, engineers, EHS professionals and Fortune 500 companies. The company is based in Puerto Rico and provides services across the Caribbean and Central America. The professionals at Zimmetry offer environmental compliance, indoor air quality, asbestos, lead-based paint, Phase I ESAs and general environmental consulting services.
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