A chemical incident is when a chemical is accidentally or deliberately released into the environment. The incident is managed and eventually resolved according to the chemical's:
- physical state
- danger level
Chemical incidents may involve:
- a plume of gas
- contamination of water
- contamination of land
Each of these has their own particular challenges for those trying to control the release and cleaning up any contamination to the environment, while ensuring the safety of the population surrounding the incident.
Environmental incidents are generally large scale incidents that affect a significant area. Examples of environmental incidents include:
- wild fires
- volcanic ash plumes
- flooding due to storms
- flooding due to high volume rainfall
These incidents will require working with a number of different organisations over a number of different geographical areas.
Our key role in a chemical or environmental incident is to provide specialist operational support and advice to stakeholders. Our scientific and medical staff provide specialised advice on the public health implications of hazardous exposures. This support is given during acute incidents and for chronic exposures that result from incidents that extend over a longer period of time.
Read the following Chemical and Environmental Incidents related publications:
- Asbestos - HPS Guidance Note
- Dealing with Assertions of Human Health Risks or Effects from Environmental Exposures: A Systematic Approach
- Elemental Mercury - HPS Guidance Note
- Neighbourhood Noise - HPS Guidance Note
- Public Health Action in Response to Detecting High Levels of Lead in Drinking-Water. Good Practice Guidance for Health Protection Teams in Scotland
- Recommended Clean-Up Procedures Following Palytoxin Incidents
- Scottish Environmental Incident Surveillance System (SEISS) 2017 Annual Report
- Statutory Nuisance - HPS Guidance Note
Data and surveillance
We operate the Scottish Environmental Incident Surveillance System (SEISS) (login required) which conducts surveillance of environmental incidents, involving risk to human health, at a national level in Scotland.
The system is based on a comprehensive incident database for Scotland, combining information on the occurrence of chemical, microbiological and radiological incidents with details of the:
- sources of information
- lessons learned
The system enhances the local, regional and national awareness of incidents and provides a nationwide forum for distributing information to participating agencies with responsibilities for responding to chemical and environmental incidents that have the potential to impact on public health.
For further Information please email the SEISS Team.