NSW HEALTH is warning people not to handle silver canisters which may wash ashore or be found in waters off the coast of NSW.
The warning comes after a 66-year-old man became ill after opening a canister he discovered off Tuncurry on the mid north coast of NSW last week.
The man was immediately rushed to hospital where he was monitored for breathing difficulties.
The canister is thought to have contained the highly toxic chemical aluminium phosphide, which is used as a fumigant to kill rodents and insects.
Earlier this month a canister was found on the beach at Rosedale, Batemans Bay.
The canisters are thought to contain the highly toxic chemical, aluminium phosphide, which is used as a fumigant to kill rodents and insects.
”There is a severe health risk posed by these canisters,” Tracey Oakman, Director Public Health for Southern NSW Local Health District said.
“Aluminium phosphide produces a highly toxic gas upon contact with air or water and is potentially lethal if eaten or inhaled.
“Exposure causes a range of symptoms that include irritation of the nose, mouth and throat, weakness, chest pain, nausea and confusion. In severe cases heart failure and lung inflammation occurs, which can be fatal.”
Since last October a number of canisters have been found along the coast of Queensland and NSW. The source is not known but it is possible they were washed towards the coast from a ship.
"The canisters contain a toxic substance. For safety's sake, should anyone find one, I urge them to immediately report it by calling triple zero. Do not touch or smell the contents, open the canister or transport it," Mrs Oakman said.
The canisters are described as being silver in appearance and about 20cm high and 10cm wide.
If anyone identifies a canister on the beach or in the sea, they should call 000 immediately to seek medical help and advise Fire and Rescue NSW.