Portland residents are reporting a strange black dust covering their vehicles and homes. Some homeowners believe the dust may be a byproduct of a nearby voestalpine plant, leaving families to wonder if there is cause for alarm.
TCEQ and Plant Owners Work to Determine Source of the Dust
While it is not clear where the dust is coming from, voestalpine Texas, LLC is currently working with independent labs to determine if their nearby plant is the source.
According to voestalpine’s website, the Portland plant manufactures Hot Briquetted Iron (HBI) which is then used in the production of high-quality steel grades.
The Texas Commission of Environmental Quality (TCEQ) is also investigating the source of the residue, and several homeowners have begun conducting their own tests as well. One homeowner noted that the dust is attracted to magnets, leading him to believe that the dust contains iron.
In the meantime, voestalpine Texas, LLC has assured local media that they will take responsibility if their plant is determined to be the source of the mysterious residue.
Possible Side-Effects of Iron Dust
If the dust is determined to contain iron, residents should be aware of possible side effects.
Acute side effects tend to be mild and may include:
- Skin irritation
- Eye irritation
- Sore throat and irritated sinuses
Chronic exposure may result in siderosis (commonly referred to as welder’s lung).