Food defense professionals and management are urged to secure the chlorine stores that are ubiquitous in the food industry, ensuring careful industry control of cylinders and containers. The Food Defense Working Group received evidence this weekend confirming that Iraqi forces have encountered ISIS-built Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIEDs) in Mosul, Iraq, containing chlorine cylinders and containers. The VBIEDS are being used as a makeshift chemical weapon, emphasizing the willingness of ISIS operatives to use poison gas to kill people. You don’t want your facility to be the source for their chlorine.

Chlorine gas, a highly reactive, strong oxidizing, greenish-yellow poisonous gas in high concentrations, was first used as a battlefield weapon by the Germans in World War I. People’s risk in exposure depends on the concentration of the gas and the proximity to the source when the gas is released. Food exposed to chlorine becomes contaminated and therefore is unsafe to eat. When chlorine is mixed with water, a mixture of hydrochloric and hypochlorous acid is produced. Symptoms of exposure to chlorine gas include blurred vision; blisters on the skin; a burning sensation in the nose, throat and eyes; coughing; tightness in the chest; difficulty breathing and shortness of breath, which may be delayed if exposed to lower concentration; pulmonary edema, which may be delayed to several hours after exposure; nausea; and vomiting.

People experiencing chlorine exposure should leave the affected area immediately and get to fresh air. Chlorine gas is heavier than air, so sinks to low-lying areas. For that reason, evacuation should be to high ground, away from gullies or low lying areas that may collect the gas. If chlorine gas is released indoors, the building should be evacuated immediately. If exposed, clothing should be removed by cutting off the garments, rather than bringing them over the head, which can cause contamination by the gas to the eyes and mouth. Affected individuals should then rapidly wash their bodies with large amounts of soap and water and seek medical attention as quickly as possible. If vision is blurred, eyes should be rinsed for 10-15 minutes. Remove contact lenses before rinsing eyes. If chlorine-containing liquid has been swallowed, do not induce vomiting or drink liquids. Read more HERE and HERE.