Lebanon crisis: Incidents involving chemicals may present a serious health threat to the population
The conflict in Lebanon has led to the damage of key civilian infrastructure, including fuel depots and power plants. The ministry of environment in Lebanon has reported that up to 35 000 tonnes of oil has leaked into the sea following the bombing of a power plant near Beirut. Local media have also reported damage to, and fires at, petrol storage tanks in Beirut airport and seaport.
Such incidents can pose short and long-term health risks to the local population through:
- Toxic smoke from burning fuel depots and fumes from oil spills,
- Surface and groundwater contamination by fuel,
- Contamination of seafood, and
- Toxic waste from clean-up of damaged infrastructure.
The following documents are being provided with the kind permission of the Health Protection Agency, UK and are intended to assist international and local health professionals and emergency responders in dealing with the health aspects of oil fires and spills. Although these documents have been developed for use in the UK, they contain information that can be applied to the situation in Lebanon. All reasonable precautions have been taken by World Health Organization to verify the information contained in these publications. However, the published material is being distributed without warranty of any kind, either express or implied.
Petroleum products: spills and fires
Information on incident management, on health effects from acute and chronic exposure, and on first aid:
Summary information to guide medical management of exposure to toxic smoke:
Information to assist public health decision making on the use of water contaminated with petroleum products can be found on the Chemical hazards in drinking-water page of the Water, Sanitation and Health web site.
Chemical release: checklists
Checklists to guide the public health management of chemical releases:
Antidotes for the management of overdose and poisoning
A list of antidotes for the management of overdose and poisoning, together with a list of other basic medicines, can be found on the Health Action in Crisis web site.
Technical information and guidelines related to water safety are available on the Water, Sanitation and Health web site.
For an update of the overall WHO work in responding to this major emergency please see the Health Action in Crisis web site.
Additional documents from the UK Health Protection Agency can be found on their web site.