At least two people are dead and dozens are injured following an acetic acid leak at the LyondellBasell facility near La Porte, Texas.
CNN reports that the gas leak occurred Tuesday and involved a chemical acid used in food-grade vinegar. The first reports of the leak came in around 7:30 pm according to La Porte’s public information officer Lee Woodward.
Two people exposed to the leak were killed, two were hospitalized in critical condition, five were hospitalized with serious symptoms, and 35 people suffered minor symptoms from exposure.
Those exposed to acetic acid can suffer severe burns, serious eye damage, difficulty swallowing, and problems breathing.
The investigation into what caused the leak is ongoing, but there does not appear to be any evidence of an explosion or fire occurring in the facility.
LyondellBasell is focused on plastics, chemicals, and refining.
According to the Virginia Department of Health, acetic acid is a clear liquid with a strong odor of vinegar. It is corrosive to metals and tissue and is commonly used in manufacturing chemicals, food additives, and petroleum products.
Acetic acid is an irritant to the eyes, skin, and mucous membranes. Prolonged skin contact can result in tissue destruction and inhalations of acetic acid under 100 ppm can result in irritation to possible damage to the lungs.
At higher levels of concentration (1,000 parts per million and above), acetic acid is immediately dangerous to life and health.
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