How does this help to protect the public?
These monitoring efforts can provide useful information about the types of substances released during these events, and the most common types of injuries associated with them. The information collected can help in finding the most effective ways to handle these events — for emergency responders, health care personnel, planners, and others who play a role in protecting the public. Ultimately, the information can help to reduce deaths and injuries for responders, workers, and the general public. What kinds of leaks and spills does HSIS monitor?
The Oregon HSIS monitoring program focuses on spills and leaks that qualify as hazardous substance incidents.
These incidents may include any uncontrolled or illegal releases — or threatened releases — of potentially hazardous substances. The exceptions are leaks or spills involving petroleum products, which are handled by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.
Oregon HSIS monitors spills and leaks whenever the amount of material released makes it necessary to take protective or remedial action — that is, when it becomes necessary to clean up, remove or neutralize the spilled or leaked chemicals, or to evacuate people from the area.
Hazardous substance incidents may involve a variety of different chemical substances. More than 65,000 chemicals are currently in commercial use, and about 600 new chemicals are added each year. However, for many of these chemicals, the potential health effects are not known. A number of state and federal agencies are currently conducting research on many of these chemicals, to determine their possible effects. What kinds of problems are most likely to result from a leak or spill?
Leaks and spills are most often relatively brief events, and any human exposure to hazardous materials is also usually brief. If they do have any impact on health, these events are most likely to result in acute
health effects — that is, they are most likely to cause immediate
illness or injury. The short-term health problems associated with chemical spills or leaks can vary in severity — ranging from headaches to potentially fatal illnesses and injuries. How does Oregon HSIS learn about leaks and spills?