e MMWR series of publications is published by the Coordinating
Center for Health Information and Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Atlanta, GA 30333.
Suggested Citation: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. [Article title]. MMWR 2008;57:[inclusive page numbers].
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Julie L. Gerberding, MD, MPH Director
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Steven L. Solomon, MD Director, Coordinating Center for Health Information and Service
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November , 2008
During 2002–2007, a total of 43,766 events involving a chemical incident were reported to HSEES in the 15 states. Of these, 423 occurred in elementary and secondary schools.
e annual proportion of all events that were school related
for each state was consistent across the reporting period and ranged from 1% to 3%. School-related events most often resulted from human error (62%) (e.g., improper chemical storage and unsafe, improper use of materials or equipment), equipment failure (17%) (e.g., broken hoses, valves, or pipes), or intentional acts (17%) (e.g., using homemade chemical bombs [bottle bombs]  or 2-chloroacetophenone [i.e., mace or pepper spray pranks]) (Table 1). Among the 423 chemical incidents in elementary and secondary schools, 31% resulted in at least one acute injury and 52% resulted in an evacua- tion. Of the 74 incidents caused by intentional acts, 43% were associated with an injury.
A total of 895 persons were injured in the 423 school- related incidents. No injuries were fatal, but 11 persons were admitted to a hospital. Most injured persons received first aid on the scene, sought care from a private physician, or were treated at a hospital but not admitted. e health effects most commonly associated with the short-term release of carbon monoxide were nausea, dizziness, and headache. e release of acids and mace or pepper spray resulted primarily in respira- tory and eye irritation. Most (86%) HSEES school incidents involved the release of only one chemical. Although mercury was the most common hazardous substance released (29%), only 2% of mercury-related incidents caused an injury (Table 2). Conversely, although 4% of releases were mace or pepper spray by students, these incidents were associated with a high rate of injury (86%) and evacuation (90%). Releases (usually spills) of hydrochloric acid, commonly found in chemistry classrooms, also resulted in a significant rate of injury (58%). Carbon monoxide releases, caused primarily from equip- ment failure in old air-conditioning and heating systems, also resulted in a high rate of incidents with injury (48%) and evacuation (81%).
attigne , MStat, MF Or , MS, GD Williamson,
PhD, Div of Health Studies, Agency for
oxic Substances and Disease
Registry; S Everett Health, CDC.
o f A d o l e s c e n t
Editorial Note: During 2002–2007, a total of 423 chemical incidents in schools were reported by the 15 states partici- pating in HSEES. e findings indicate that approximately 30% of chemical exposures resulted in acute injury. Mercury was the most commonly reported chemical released, but the rate of injury associated with mercury was low. is might be explained by the fact that HSEES captures acute health effects and mercury is only immediately toxic at extremely high doses, which would not be expected at schools. Before the dangers