The terms “chemical accident” and “chemical emergency” are used to refer to an event or dangerous occurrence resulting in the release of hazardous substances affecting human health and/or the environment in the short or the long term. Such events or occurrences include fires, explosions, leakages or releases of toxic substances that can cause illness, injury, disability or death to a large number of human beings. The population may be affected through contamination of air, water or the food chain resulting from a chemical accident. Those exposed are frequently either inside an industrial site or close to it. In an urban area, a community may be exposed to hazardous substances escaping from a breached tanker vehicle that has been transporting them. In rarer cases, the exposed population may be at some distance from the accident site, including beyond national borders. In addition to human health effects, chemical accidents may result in extensive and long-term damage to the environment, with considerable economic costs.
Prepared by TESEC - European Centre of Technological Safety (Kiev, Ukraine)