What is methyl bromide?
Methyl bromide is a chemical used as a pesticide to clean up soil and buildings. At room temperature (70°F), methyl bromide is a colorless gas. It is usually shipped as a liquefied gas. At low concentrations, methyl bromide does not have an odor. At high concentrations, it has a musty or fruity smell.
How can someone come into contact with methyl bromide?
A person can come into contact with methyl bromide by being in an area where the gas is being used as a pesticide to kill insects (in soil or in buildings). Typically, the area is covered with a tent and the gas is pumped in.
Methyl bromide as a weapon: Methyl bromide can be an “agent of opportunity.” This means that someone could explode the vehicle of transportation (truck, train) that is being used to ship the chemical, or destroy tanks that store the chemical. Methyl bromide would then be released into the air.
Methyl bromide also can be manufactured by mixing certain chemicals together to create a gas.
Please note: Just because you come into contact with methyl bromide does not mean you will get sick from it.
What happens if someone gets sick from methyl bromide?
Signs of a poisoning include the following:
How likely is someone to die from methyl bromide poisoning?
The effects of methyl bromide will depend on the concentration of exposure, length of time and way the person is exposed. A highly concentrated solution or large amount in the air is more likely to cause severe effects, including death.
What is the treatment for methyl bromide poisoning?
Prevention of illness after contact:
First, leave the area where the methyl bromide was released and move to fresh air.
Is there a vaccine for methyl bromide poisoning?
No, there is no vaccine for methyl bromide poisoning.
What should be done if someone comes into contact with methyl bromide?
If you think that you or someone you know may have come into contact with methyl bromide, contact the local county health department right away. (Visit www.idph.state.il.us//local/alpha.htm for a listing of all county health departments in Illinois or check your local phone book.)
If you or someone you know is showing symptoms of methyl bromide poisoning, call your health care provider or the Illinois Poison Center right away. The toll-free number for the poison center is 1-800-222-1222.
Where can one get more information about methyl bromide?
Reviewed by IPC Staff 11/2011