Monday, August 16, 2021

Chemical worker in Alabama dies of sulfur dioxide exposure

Via The Decatur Daily (by Michael Wetzel), this sad news: 
Aug. 13—Sharona Rusk of Eva says she still can't believe her husband of 20 years and father of their two children is no longer alive. Wesley Rusk died Tuesday, 39 days after being exposed to chemicals at Daikin America Inc. in Decatur, where he had worked for the past two decades.

"It's been two days, and it's still hard to understand. I'd be lying if I said I understood it," Sharona said Thursday afternoon. "Honestly, I had belief, hope and faith that God would perform a miracle and (Wesley) would walk out of the hospital."

She said on July 2, Wesley, 45, and two other workers were working outside at Daikin and were exposed to "several chemicals in the area."

She said a couple of days later, he started having symptoms from the exposure. He went to the emergency room at Huntsville Hospital on July 4 and was placed in the intensive care unit.

He was diagnosed with low oxygen levels, tightness in the chest and inflammation in both lungs, she said. Then on July 15, he was transferred to Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville. Sharona said after reviewing a list of possible chemical exposures provided to them by Daikin, doctors at Vanderbilt "are the ones who narrowed it down to sulfur dioxide."
This article indicates some of how he was exposed potentially: 
Sharona says Wesley told her, and several doctors and nurses, what happened at Daikin-America on July 2:

“There were 3 of them out there, outside, working on the towers. There are two towers that the chemicals flow through. Supposedly the excess chemicals flow into what they called the pit. When they went out that night, the smell from the pit was different than what it had been in the past.”

July 2 was a Friday.

“Late Saturday evening, early Sunday morning, that’s when he started feeling the symptoms. We made him go to the ER. I saw how low his oxygen was and he couldn’t walk from one room to the other without struggling,” Sharona recalled.

 Condolences to the Rusk family. Here's the NIOSH guide for sulfur dioxide. 

1 comment:

  1. it was not sulfur dioxide, to be sure. SO2 is a potent lung irritant. If the victim inhaled a lethal SO2 dose, he would be choking immediately. What the report described sounds like lung edema and chemical induced pneumonia- the effects are delayed, often for many hours, even days. I think the company has a good idea what was it but they are not giving that information on advice of their lawyers


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