As subscribers to the DCHAS-L list know, I have been using google news to track headlines related to hazmat events since Febuary, 2010. I have shared a digest of these events (19,727 events as of this morning) with the list. Starting in 2011, the addition of a couple of macros written by Rob Toreki made this an automated process that has become part of my morning routine. The catalog of these events can be found at
At the end of each year, I like to review the data to see what trends might come up. This data is based on 12,303 entries since 2011 that are event-based, as opposed to mre general items that are likely to be of interest to the chemical safety community.
This year‰??s observations include:
1. The average number of events per year was 1040. 2020 saw a low point in terms of number of hazmat events reported with 739, presumably due to Covid impacts on the economy. 2021 continues this dip with 875 events reported.
2. The percentage of the headlines addressing events in the United States has decreased in the last two years from between 75 and 80% to around 65%. Over those two years, the locations of the events not in the US is relatively evenly distributed among the next most common countries:
3. About 7% of the events reported include deaths, although the last couple of years those reports have increased to 9 or 10%. There is a decrease in the number of events that report only injuries, from 32% to 24%. About 60% of the events are strictly hazmat responses, although the last couple of years that number has rised to 65%.
4. The original reason I began this exercise was to assess whether the common observation in 2010 that ‰??academic labs have a much poorer safety performance than other sectors‰??. Responses to laboratory situations are about 10% of the total, although that has decreased significantly the last two years, presumably due to the pandemic disruption de-populating academic laboratories. There were about 130 responses/year to laboratories between 2011 and 2018. In 2020-21, there were 57 and 53 responses.
About 37% of responses are to industrial sites, 30% to public sites and 17% to transportation events. The percentage of responses to transportation the last two years went up the last two years, with more than 20% related to transportation this year.
5. 60% of responses were to the top 20 chemicals; the chemicals involved in the response are relatively steady over the last decade:
flammable solvents 2.59%
I can make the raw data files to anyone who would like to explore the details further.
I will be putting together a survey to distribute to the list later this week to help me decide how to make this project as useful as possible to the list. But I would be interested in general comments as well whenever you are so inspired.
Thanks for your interest in Chemical Health and Safety!
Ralph Stuart, CIH, CCHO
American Chemical Society Division of Chemical Health and Safety
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