Abstract

Methyl bromide (MeBr) is used as an insecticide fumigant. Four deaths and three recent hospitalizations have resulted from exposures to MeBr in Dade County, FL. Six cases occurred during burglaries of tented houses over a nine-month period. In four lethal exposures, the symptoms of nausea, vomiting, and malaise preceeded fulminant respiratory failure. Two of these also had seizures, delirium, and agitation. Serum or plasma bromide ion levels ranged from 40 to 583 mg/L. Pulmonary edema, hyaline membranes, and hemorrhagic alveolitis were present at autopsy along with varying degrees of cerebral edema. The nonlethal exposures resulted in symptoms of conjunctival irritation, headache, or nausea. Plasma bromide concentrations varied between 17.5 and 321 mg/L. Methyl bromide characteristics, use, morbidity, and mortality in Florida during the past 25 years are reviewed. Remedies for illegal entry are proposed.

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