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No public health risk from Phosphine incident in Port Colborne

Posted Dec 22nd, 2010

Niagara Region Public Health is reassuring the public that there is no secondary health risk from the Phosphine incident where 16 individuals were evacuated from a ship on Lake Erie in the early morning of December 22, 2010. Transport Canada and provincial and federal health authorities are leading and investigating this incident.

The chemical was not spilled into the water or onto clothes. The gas is not spread from person to person and therefore the ship’s crew cannot spread this to anyone with whom they may be in contact.

The individuals from the ship are being assessed and treated at Niagara Health System (14 patients) and West Lincoln Memorial Hospital (two patients). All individuals are stable at this time. Niagara Health System and West Lincoln Memorial Hospital will work with Canadian Border Services to appropriately discharge the patients.
Phosphine is a chemical used to fumigate or control pests in processed foods, stored tobacco, animal feeds, and non-food products. It is in the organophosphate chemical group.

For more information, media may contact:

Dr. Valerie Jaeger
Associate Medical Officer of Health
Niagara Region Public Health
905-688-8248, ext. 7466 or

Caroline Bourque Wiley
Public Affairs Consultant
905-378-4647, ext. 43113

Niagara Health System