I agree in part with Alan (will wonders never cease), but the issue here is the balance. And I think many of the recent comments are elitist way too close to being chemophyllic (rather than chemophobic).
The point of the politicization of the Arkema plant explosion is not that "chemicals are bad" but that "chemicals in populated areas for which appropriate safety precautions are not mandated by existing regulations" are bad. Damn obvious.
And as we learned from 9/11 and Sandy, we have an obligation to make sure people know exactly what is in that smoke or in the water and the potential hazards. It is not only unethical to withhold any information, that data is also the best motivator to get people to avoid unnecessary exposures, practice precautions and take the time to put on respirators, gloves or whatever.
That was the lesson here in NYC. The really heavy costs are often the medical costs long after the disaster -- and most of them preventable..
And since we have a human experiment going on in Houston, like it or not, the more data we have about the chemicals in the air, the more we can learn about effects of those chemicals in the short term and in the coming years. You can't mine data that you don't have.
I strongly disagree that the people who are talking about the hazards of the chemicals are just fear mongers. Fear is the beginning of wisdom as someone once said.
Monona Rossol, M.S., M.F.A., Industrial Hygienist
President: Arts, Crafts & Theater Safety, Inc.Safety Officer: Local USA829, IATSE181 Thompson St., #23New York, NY 10012 212-777-0062
From: Alan Hall <oldeddoc**At_Symbol_Here**GMAIL.COM>
To: DCHAS-L <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**PRINCETON.EDU>
Sent: Fri, Sep 1, 2017 8:08 pm
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] News Report: Should Texas Residents Know the Chemicals They're Breathing After the Arkema Plant Explosion?
Et al,o shut down
Do not let us forget that in any fire smoke regardless of what is burning or pyrollizing, there can be more than 400 different chemical substances present. Almost always carbon monoxide and in many cases, cyanide. Certainly there can be any number of irritant combustion/pyrollysis products which should particularly be avoided by persons with pre-existing respiratory diseases such as asthma and COPD.
Open air exposures are, of course, generally much less significant than enclosed space exposures and first responders properly protected with SCBA are at only minimal risk. Plume modeling is an excellent way to determine evacuation zones. The best prevention is not to be exposed at all.
I very much concur with Roger that there were some incredibly heroic measures taken to shut down the various petrochemical, petroleum refinery,and other facilties. The magnitude of this effort can easily be seen in a NASA satellite image of the Houston Ship Channel alone showing the extent of the various chemical-related industries in that single location -- huge.
So, yes, let's don't spread more 'chemophobia" (plenty enough out there to last for decades already). And yes, it certainly is sometimes best to let a fire burn itself out rather than risk the health and lives of firefighters (which I can say, having been a volunteer firefighter in my past).
Good advice about not wading around in floodwater unless absolutely necessary and securing sources of clean food and dirnking water. An up-to-date tetanus immnization is always a good idea. I've seen 2 cases of active tetanus and don't ever want to see another one.
AlanAlan H. Hall, M.D.Medical Toxicologist
--- For more information about the DCHAS-L e-mail list, contact the Divisional secretary at secretary**At_Symbol_Here**dchas.org Follow us on Twitter **At_Symbol_Here**acsdchas
On Fri, Sep 1, 2017 at 5:34 PM, Annesciencemom <000003fb75ba68df-dmarc-
Thank you, Roger. I think you are spot on. Best Regards, Anne DeMasi
Sent from my iPhone
On Sep 1, 2017, at 5:18 PM, Roger McClellan <roger.o.mcclellan**At_Symbol_Here**att.net> wrote:
--- For more information about the DCHAS-L e-mail list, contact the Divisional secretary at secretary**At_Symbol_Here**dchas.org Follow us on Twitter **At_Symbol_Here**acsdchasTo all:In my opinion, this is an interesting story that lacks context.
I urge my friends who are card carrying chemists to take every story like this with a grain of salt. It absolutely lacks context as to the real health hazards the residents of Houston and the surrounding areas are facing. Everyone knows most chemicals are potentially hazardous if inhaled or ingested or otherwise encountered at inappropriate exposure concentrations and durations. What is critical is the exposure concentration and duration of exposure. As near as I can tell from media reports and conversations with friends in Texas appropriate measures were taken to limit exposure of emergency personnel and nearby residents. We do not need more stories about how bad chemicals are. Note that not a single person quoted in the story provided quantitative data!
I especially decry the attempt to politicize the Arkema situation and use it to further sensitize the public that chemicals are bad. I wish that some reporters would leave Washington and go to Houston and see first hand the remarkable actions taken to minimize harm. I am talking about the efforts taken to shut down a huge portion of the US refining and chemical production capacity in an extraordinarily short period of time. What a success story!! I suspect monitoring of ambient air in Houston today with refineries and chemical plants shut down and reduced vehicular traffic will set a new record for low back ground concentrations of hydrocarbons.
A Texas friend asked for my advice. I told him verify that his tetanus shots are up to date, try to find potable water to drink, try to find safe food and minimize wading in water contaminated with human sewage.
Roger O. McClellan, DVM, MMS, DSc (Honorary)Diplomate- ABVT and ABT; Fellow - ATS, AAAR, HPS, SRA and AAASMember-National Academy of MedicineEditor-Critical Reviews in ToxicologyAdvisor, Toxicology and Human Health Risk AnalysisAlbuquerque, NM
Show original messageOn Friday, September 1, 2017 11:59 AM, "Secretary, ACS Division of Chemical Health and Safety" <secretary**At_Symbol_Here**DCHAS.ORG> wrote:
--- For more information about the DCHAS-L e-mail list, contact the Divisional secretary at secretary**At_Symbol_Here**dchas.org Follow us on Twitter **At_Symbol_Here**acsdchasComplete story at:Should Texas Residents Know the Chemicals They're Breathing After the Arkema Plant Explosion?
Hurricane Harvey has been downgraded from a Category 4 hurricane to a tropical depression as it moves over Louisiana and into Mississippi. Texas officials say at least 44 people were killed by the storm and nearly 100,000 homes are damaged by flooding. This comes as a chemical plant about 25 miles northeast of Houston, in Crosby, was rocked by two explosions early Thursday morning. The facility produces highly volatile chemicals known as organic peroxides, and at least 10 sheriff's deputies were hospitalized after inhaling fumes. Officials had already evacuated residents within a one-and-a-half-mile radius of the plant in the town of Crosby, after it lost primary and backup power to its coolant system. Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez insisted in an early-morning press conference that the plant had not exploded, describing the event as a "pop" followed by smoke. But Federal Emergency Management Agency head Brock Long said a plume of chemicals leaking from the plant was "incredibly dangerous." We speak with Matt Dempsey, reporter with the Houston Chronicle who questioned Arkema about what is stored at the plant and who produced the investigative series "Chemical Breakdown," which examined regulatory failures of the chemical industry.
AMY GOODMAN: Hurricane Harvey has been downgraded from a Category 4 hurricane to a tropical depression as it moves over Louisiana and into Mississippi. In Houston, floodwaters have begun to recede, revealing corpses and mass devastation. Texas officials say at least 44 people have been killed by the storm. Nearly 100,000 homes are damaged by flooding. More than 30,000 people remain in shelters. Health officials are taking steps to minimize the spread of diseases such as cholera and typhoid, and nearly 150,000 homes have been told to boil their water. East of Houston, in hard-hit Beaumont, drinking water is completely shut off, and emergency workers are evacuating Beaumont's main hospital. Meanwhile, flooding continues in North Houston as the Neches River surged beyond its banks and is expected to rise another foot by Friday afternoon.
This comes as a chemical plant about 25 miles northeast of Houston, in Crosby, that=E2=80™s swamped by about six feet of water, was rocked by two explosions early Thursday morning that sent thick black smoke into the air. The facility produces highly volatile chemicals known as organic peroxides, and at least 10 sheriff's deputies went to the hospital after inhaling fumes. Officials had already evacuated residents within a one-and-a-half-mile radius of the plant in Crosby after it lost primary and backup power to its coolant system. Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez insisted in an early-morning press conference that the plant had not exploded, describing the event as a "pop" followed by smoke. But Federal Emergency Management Agency head-that's FEMA head-Brock Long said a plume of chemicals leaking from the plant is "incredibly dangerous."
BROCK LONG: So, the bottom line is, is that we do what's called plume modeling, and that's what we base a lot of the evacuations on. And so, by all means, yes, the plume is incredibly dangerous.AMY GOODMAN: This comes as the company, Arkema, has refused to state precisely which chemicals are produced or how many of them are still on site at the time of the explosions. During a call with reporters, Arkema CEO Richard Rowe said the company expected the chemicals on site to catch fire or explode, and admitted it is a way to prevent a fire or potential-it has no way to prevent a fire or potential explosion near the plant. He was questioned by reporter Matt Dempsey with the Houston Chronicle.
MATT DEMPSEY: I have the 2015 Tier II chemical inventory for your facility. Are you going to provide a updated-the most current Tier II chemical inventory for the facility to the media?RICHARD ROWE: I don't-I don't know that we see the need to do that. I mean, all the-they're all involved with the-the peroxides that we're discussing.MATT DEMPSEY: No, I understand that. There's a lot more detail in the Tier II chemical inventory for reporters that could be useful. Just to be clear, though, it sounds like you're not willing to release your current chemical-or your Tier II chemical inventory to the media?RICHARD ROWE: I mean, again, I don't-I don't=E2=80"we do not see the need at this time to do that.
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