Phosgene leak at pesticide manufacturer facility kills employee
The United States Chemical Safety Board (CSB) released its animation of the phosgene leak that led to a serious accident in January, 2010. This accident led to a catastrophic phosgene leak which killed an employee.
Phosgene is a colorless nonflammable gas that has the odor of freshly cut hay. Phosgene can be used in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals and pesticides. The OSHA Permissible Exposure Limit for phosgene is 0.1 ppm and the NIOSH IDLH is 2 ppm. Inhalation is the major route of exposure for phosgene, and the odor threshold for phosgene is 5 times higher than the PEL. Since phosgene has poor warning properties, the use of air-purifying respirators may be used for escape only in the event of a phosgene leak. OSHA goes into the details in their letter of interpretation on this subject. Emergency response personnel should be trained in ATSDR’s Medical Management Guidelines for phosgene prior to any response to a phosgene leak.
Emergency response personnel should also be trained in various real-time air monitoring methods to detect the presence of a phosgene leak. These methods may include the use of either detectors tubes or other real-time instruments. If you need a good book on industrial hygiene monitoring, I would suggest Air Monitoring for Toxic Exposures.
The NIOSH Pocket Guide for Phosgene