A massive chemical detonation occurred on August 4, 2020 in the Port of Beirut, Lebanon.
An uncontrolled fire in an adjacent warehouse ignited similar to 2,750 tons of Ammonium
Nitrate (AN), producing one of the most devastating blasts in recent history. The
blast supersonic pressure and heat wave claimed the lives of 220 people and injured
more than 6,500 instantaneously, with severe damage to the nearby dense residential
and commercial areas. This review represents one of the in-depth reports to provide
a detailed analysis of the Beirut blast and its health and environmental implications.
It further reviews prior AN incidents and suggests actionable recommendations and
strategies to optimize chemical safety measures, improve emergency preparedness, and
mitigate the delayed clinical effects of blast and toxic gas exposures. These recommended
actionable steps offer a starting point for government officials and policymakers
to build frameworks, adopt regulations, and implement chemical safety protocols to
ensure safe storage of hazardous materials as well as reorganizing healthcare system
disaster preparedness to improve emergency preparedness in response to similar large-scale
disasters and promote population safety. Future clinical efforts should involve detailed
assessment of physical injuries sustained by blast victims, with systemic mitigation
and possible treatment of late blast effects involving individuals, communities and
the region at large.