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Asbestos Confirmed in Manhattan Steam Pipe Explosion

On Thursday morning, a steam pipe ruptured in the flatiron district of Manhattan producing a thick geyser of white smoke and debris that contained asbestos.

Details of the Steam Pipe Explosion

According to the New York Times, five people suffered minor injuries when the pipe burst; however, no one was seriously injured. City officials said the hole in the street caused by the rupture was about the length of one and a half cars, and that it was one car length wide.

Police had closed off several intersections, shutting down traffic on major thoroughfares, and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said that subway trains were being rerouted and bypassing stations. Offices in the area were also advising employees to take alternate routes to work.

The city is still investigating the cause of the explosion. A total of 49 buildings had been evacuated due to the explosion. Fifth Avenue between 19th and 22nd streets remained closed. A network of steam piping meanders underneath New York City, and explosions are not uncommon.

Steam Pipe Explosion Startles Residents and Creates Asbestos Concerns

Mayor Bill de Blasio stated during a news conference that test results showed that there was asbestos in the steam line, which raised concern about the long term effects of the exposure due to the debris. Officials will work to determine when they will be safe to enter, the mayor said.

The blast startled those in the area, some of whom immediately braced for the worst.

“I knew either it was a World Trade Center kind of thing or a plane crash,” said Doreen Black, who was in bed in her apartment at 22nd Street and Broadway when the explosion occurred. “That was my fear.”

Ms. Black, who has lived there since 1991, said she expected to be evacuated, so she started packing up a suitcase.

“I took down my little wheelie from the closet and started packing,” Ms. Black said. “My husband thought I was crazy. He went back to sleep.”

According fire commissioner, Daniel A. Nigro, about 100 firefighters who responded to the explosion were expected to be treated in asbestos decontamination units, and two decontamination centers for the general public were set up in the area. Con Edison, which operates the system of steam piping, said that the explosion also disrupted some underground power and gas lines but did not cause outages.

Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney

If you or a loved one have been severely injured in an accident due to someone else’s negligence, contact Thomas J. Henry. Our experienced injury lawyers are available 24/7, nights and weekends to evaluate you claim. Catastrophic and serious injuries can cause you immense pain, put you out of work, and cause you financial harm. We can help you get back on your feet by advancing you court costs and medical costs.

At Thomas J. Henry, it is important to us that our clients are comfortable throughout the legal process. Backed by extensive legal and financial resources, let our experienced attorneys fight tirelessly on your behalf to help you obtain the real results you deserve. Contact Thomas J. Henry today for a free case review. Our firm has law offices located in Corpus ChristiSan AntonioAustin, and Houston, serving clients across Texas and nationwide.

Brain Eating Amoeba Found In Louisiana Water System For Third Time in Three Years

A potentially deadly brain eating amoeba has been found in Terrebonne Parish water system once again, leaving residents terrified to use their swimming pools or even bathe in their own homes.

Details of the Louisiana Water Contamination

According to CBS News, independent testing confirmed the presence of Naegleria fowleri in the Terrebonne Parish water system. Naegleria fowleri is an amoeba which causes fatal brain swelling and tissue destruction.

The Terrebonne Consolidated Waterworks District issued a notification Sunday, saying they had temporarily switched to a different disinfectant to kill the organism.

This marks the third time that the amoeba has been detected in the water system since 2015. Last June, Terrebonne Parish’s water system tested positive for the amoeba in Isle de Jean Charles, where it had also been found three years ago.

The current contamination impacts all fresh water sources ranging from drinking water to pool water to water used for showers. The manager for Consolidated Waterworks stated that they began a 60 day pure chlorine wash to kill the microbes on Friday. It will test the water in two weeks to ensure it’s eradicated.

About Naegleria Fowleri Infections

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), most Naegleria fowleri infections occur during the summer months in southern-tier states because the organism thrives in warmer waters. However, infections can also occur in northern regions as well.

The CDC also says that the onset of the disease typically begins within five days and includes symptoms such as headaches, fever, and nausea. Later symptoms include hallucinations, loss of balance, and seizures.

While an infection from the organism is rare, it is almost always deadly.

From 1962 to 2016, there were 143 reported cases infections reported, out which only four people survived.

In Louisiana, two residents died in 2011 after using neti pots to rinse out their noses, and a 4-year-old boy died in 2013 after spending hours playing in a Slip ‘N Slide in hot and muddy conditions.

Safety Tips to Avoid Naegleria Fowleri Infection

The CDC states that in order to prevent an infection from occurring, they advise to:

  1. Prevent from water going up the nose during showers or when washing your face.
  2. To avoid submerging your head under water when bathing.
  3. To supervise children playing with sprinklers or hoses and to avoid Slip ‘N Slides and other activities that make it hard to stop water from going into the nasal cavity.

Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney

At Thomas J. Henry, we focus on personal injury matters and achieving the maximum recovery for you and your family. Our firm has the resources to take care of you and your family during the legal process. Our lawyers are dedicated to each and every client and their unique case. Let us help you get the compensation you deserve for the injuries you have sustained. Contact our personal injury attorneys — available 24/7, nights and weekends — for a free legal consultation.


Train Carrying Molten Sulfur Derails, Causing Hazmat Situation

Train locomotive engine carrying rail cars with empty track in foreground

Residents in a Lakeland, Florida, neighborhood were prompted to stay indoors for several hours after a train derailment causes a hazardous chemical spill.

According to NPR, at around 2 a.m. Monday morning, a CSX cargo train derailed in a residential area near Kathleen Road. Four of the train cars involved in the derailment leaked their contents of molten sulfur, a hazardous chemical used in manufacturing rubber, fertilizers, paper, and sulfuric acid. Hazmat crews were called to the scene to assist with clean up.

Residents nearby were asked to shelter in place, close windows, and turn off their air conditioning until the situation was handled. Sulfur is a known irritant to skin, eyes, and mucous membranes and can cause burns.

According to NPR, no injuries have been reported due to the chemical spill. Roadways near the spill have been closed off as the molten sulfur is cleaned up and the train wreckage is removed.

The train was traveling from Waycross, Georgia, to Winston, Florida, when the derailment occurred for reasons currently unknown. CSX is investigating the cause of the early morning train derailment.

The train of nearly 200 rail cars was carrying several items, including cardboard, rock, and oats, in addition to the molten sulfur.

Injured from a Chemical Spill? Contact an Experienced Injury Attorney

If you or a loved one have been hurt due to an exposure to a hazardous chemical or substance from an event such as a train derailment, contact Thomas J. Henry. Our attorneys handle all types of personal injury claims and will fight on your behalf to get the compensation you deserve. Truck crashes, train derailments, factory and refinery explosions can release toxic substances into the environment that pose a risk to the surrounding communities. Call us today if you have been injured — our lawyers are available 24/7, nights and weekends.

Our firm has law offices in Corpus Christi, San Antonio, and Houston, serving clients in Texas and nationwide.

Sulfur in Pesticides Might be Linked to Children Developing Lung Problems

There’s evidence to support the claim that children living near fields may develop lung problems due to the presence of sulfur in pesticides used on crops.

About the Pesticide Study

Elemental sulfur is the most commonly used pesticide across Europe and the state of California, and although deemed safe for use by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it has been shown to cause eye, skin, and respiratory issues with farmworkers.

Sulfur’s effect on the health of people living near treated crops hadn’t been studied until recently, and researchers are finding a lot of information of how detrimental sulfur can be on the lung health of children.

A study was recently performed to see how sulfur could affect respiratory function in children, and it was found that it can lead to poorer lung function, higher chances of having respiratory issues, and an increased usage of asthma medication in those affected.

More Details on the Study

Dr. Rachel Raanan and her colleagues conducted research to see how children living near farms were affected by the pesticides that were used on crops.

The children that participated were enrolled in the Center for the Health Assessment of Mothers and Children of Salinas (CHAMACOS) study, which was to see how environmental elements and exposure to various substances affected children in San Salinas, California.

The mothers of the children responded to various questions about their children and what sort of health issues they displayed, with all 347 participants being 7 years of age. Out of this group, 237 of the mothers provided information about their child’s respiratory medications and proximity to agricultural fields treated with sulfur.

It was found that, out of the 237 children, 89.0% were born into immigrant families and 63.4% lived with at least one agricultural worker.

The researchers also discovered that children living within 1 km of a field treated with pesticides that contained sulfur had worse lung function and higher chances of needed medication for respiratory issues such as asthma.

The researchers said that “potential respiratory toxicity of elemental sulfur deserves more regulatory attention” due to the fact that pesticides that use sulfur are so common.

Study Shows That Workers Exposed to Pesticides May Be More Likely To Develop COPD

A recent study conducted in Australia has provided evidence that workers that are exposed to either pesticides or herbicides may be more likely to develop chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Information About the COPD Study

Reuters reported that the researchers have evidence to support that workers are more likely to develop or aggravate breathing disorders if they work with either pesticides or herbicides during their lifetime.

It was shown that, if a worker was exposed to any sort of herbicide, that they would double their likelihood of developing COPD by middle age. The average age for the participants was 45 years old, with a quarter of them being current smokers.

The study showed that around 6 percent of the workers followed in the study suffered from COPD, and that over 28 percent had asthma or previously had signs of asthma during their lives.

Close to 65 million people worldwide suffer from COPD in varying levels of severity, and the World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes it as the cause of 5 percent of deaths. While smoking often contributes to the worsening of the condition, other causes include working or cooking near toxic substances, as well as frequent childhood respiratory infections.

Dr. Steve Georas, an environmental health researcher at the University of Rochester in New York, stated that not enough was known about the “extent of exposure needed to cause changes in lung function”.

Dr. Georas went on to say that even a single exposure to a toxic substance, such as the pesticides, may “cause long lasting changes in airway function”.

Symptoms of COPD

Chronic bronchitis is generally marked daily cough and mucus (sputum) production at least three months a year for two consecutive years. Other signs of COPD include:

  • Shortness of breath, especially during physical activities
  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness
  • Having to clear your throat first thing in the morning, due to excess mucus in your lungs
  • A chronic cough that may produce mucus (sputum) that may be clear, white, yellow or greenish
  • Blueness of the lips or fingernail beds (cyanosis)
  • Frequent respiratory infections
  • Lack of energy
  • Unintended weight loss (in later stages)
  • Swelling in ankles, feet or legs

Popular Dissolvent that Can Kill Without Warning Remains on Market

A common dissolvent called methylene chloride has remained on the market for more than 50 years with the knowledge that use can cause sudden death.

OSHA Works to Confirm 17th Death in 17 Years

According to Medscape, OSHA linked 17 deaths to workers breathing methylene chloride between 2000 and 2015. OSHA is now investigating another death, that of Kevin Hartley.

Hartley was working for his family’s business when he suddenly collapsed at a Nashville apartment complex in April. Upon finding Hartley, his brother and father began CPR as they waited for paramedics arrived.

Doctors informed Hartley’s family that fumes from methylene chloride, which Hartley was using to refinish a bathtub, had caused his heart to stop. While doctors were able to restart Hartley’s heart, they was no brain activity.

On April 28, Kevin Heartly was pronounced dead at the young age of 21.

Methylene Chloride Can Kill in Under 5 Minutes

Doctors have known about the fatal implications of breathing methylene chloride for more than 50 years – and while the European Union has banned most consumer and professional use, the product remains readily available in the U.S. where home improvement stores sell it by the gallon.

More alarming is the fact that, until this year, the only warning required on the labels of products containing methylene chloride was an alert about potential long-term cancer risks.

The truth is that methylene choloride can kill suddenly and without warning, and as little as 6 ounces can be fatal.

Methylene chloride kills by turning into carbon monoxide upon entering the body. Upon becoming carbon monoxide, the chemical crowds out oxygen in the blood and quickly starves the heart and brain of air. Fatal injuries can occur in as little as 5 minutes.

Prevalence of the Chemical and Proposed Bans

The EPA estimates 1.3 million consumers use methylene chloride products every year. Another 32,000 workers use it on the job. Use of the product has included stripping paint, degreasing food equipment, decaffeinating coffee and tea, and propelling aerosol spray.

The EPA is now pushing to limit the products uses and has proposed a ban on methylene chloride as a paint and coating stripper; however, the proposed rule will take time and may never become law.

In the meantime, experts continue to inform consumers and workers of the potential dangers associated with methylene chloride with OSHA reminding Americans that every death from the chemical is 100% preventable.


Strange Black Dust Raises Concern from Portland Residents

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

According to reports from KRIS and KIII, the strange dust first appeared about one month ago and seems to be most prevalent in Portland’s Bay Ridge subdivision.

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).

1,700 Flint Residents File Lawsuit Against U.S. Government Over Lead Poisoning

Nearly two thousand residents of Flint, Michigan filed a lawsuit against the United States government. According to several news outlets, including Reuters, the 1,700 plaintiffs seek $722 million in damages from the Environmental Protection Agency, claiming that its mismanagement of a water crisis exposed thousands of their children to lead poisoning.

Details of the Lead Poisoning Lawsuit

The lead exposure took place when Flint switched its water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River in April 2014, while under the supervision of a state-appointed emergency manager.

About a year later, tests detected high amounts of lead in blood samples taken from children residing in Flint, and in October 2015, the city reverted to its previous water system.

The 30-page lawsuit specifically cites the “major failure of all levels of government” to protect the health and safety of the public in the “environmental catastrophe”.

Lead Exposure Statistics

According to an article originally published in September 2015 by the Flint Water Study, conducted by an independent research team from Virginia Tech University, 40.1% of the first draw samples taken voluntarily from Flint homes (101 out of 251 water samples) are over 5 parts per billion (ppb).

The study also revealed that Flint’s 90th percentile lead value was 25 ppb, which well exceeds the 15 ppb that is allowed by the Environmental Protection Agency in high risk homes.

Several samples reportedly exceeded 100 ppb, and at least one sample collected exceeded 1000 ppb after less than one minute of flushing.

Flawed CDC Report on Lead Poisoning Left Children In Indiana Vulnerable


According to, the EPA found high concentrations of lead in the soil of the West Calumet Housing Complex in East Chicago, Indiana

Details of the Lead Contamination

The led emissions were from a closed U.S. Smelter and Lead Refinery Inc., also known as USS Lead. Earlier this year the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) detected high lead concentrations in the soil that could pose a serious health risk to families at the housing complex if left as is.

Due to the lead contamination, the West Calumet Housing Complex, aged at 44-years-old, has been marked for demolition and all 1,100 residents are being forced into new homes.

The EPA tried to combat the issues outside of designating the housing complex for demolition. The agency has commandeered a newly built local elementary school and has officials stationed there to offer free blood tests to check the levels of lead poisoning of residents.

Residents of the housing complex are outraged and want to know why the lead contamination in the soil wasn’t identified and removed earlier.

Cause of Delayed Identification of Lead Contamination

One of the reasons West Calumet residents didn’t learn of the lead toxicity was due to the conclusions of a 19-page report issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and conducted by a branch of the CDC—the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).

The ATSDR conducts similar public health assessments to identify potential risks before the EPA and such officials take any further steps to deal with a contamination.

According to a Reuters examination, the conclusion of the report was built on flawed data. The report’s conclusion that residents were at no health risk was wrong as many of the key findings of the report were found to be misleading or baseless.

What The EPA Found

When the EPA sampled the soil in the housing complex, 50% of the homes tested had lead in their topsoil that exceeded 1,200 parts per million. This amount is three times the federal “hazard” level for area that are considered residential.

This “hazard” level permits a “time-critical” action for residents of the area to be removed within six months, according to EPA standards.

According to Indiana’s State Department of Health, since EPA involvement, 10 children under 7-years-old that were residents of the West Calumet houses or other nearby areas had confirmed elevated lead levels.

More monitoring is planned for East Chicago according to experts.

Lead Poisoning Information

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, exposure to lead can harm a child’s health in the following ways:

  • Delayed growth and development
  • Damage to brain and nervous systems
  • Learning and behavior problems
  • Speech and hearing issues

Chemical Leak at Plant Sickens Nearby Residents


According to KHON2, a chlorine gas leak occurred at BEI Hawaii, causing some residents to panic and wonder why the public wasn’t alerted.

“Should Have Made Public Notification,” says battalion chief

A resident nearby the BEI Hawaii agricultural chemical facility contacted KHON2 wondering why people in the area were not alerted to the chemical leak.

According to a resident, he couldn’t breathe due to the fumes. KHON2 reports that the resident claimed his neighbors’ yards turned brown from the odor.

At approximately 7:00 a.m. local time on September 22, the chlorine gas began to leak, bringing the readings to 2 parts per million, according to KHON2. A BEI regulatory compliance officer says that any reading over 2 parts per million is dangerous.

BEI alerted the fire department less than an hour after the leak began. Employees were evacuating before fire crews arrived, reports KHON2.

At one point, the leak was under control, but fire crews were called back again at around 6:30 a.m. on Friday.

KHON2 reports that two workers and one firefighter received treatment for injuries.

“I Couldn’t Breathe. I Couldn’t Stay in the House.”

One resident said the odor was so strong that he had to visit the emergency room, according to KHON2. The man says he started coughing and vomiting and couldn’t breathe.

BEI says the public wasn’t notified because the readings outside of the facility were at safe levels. However, the fire battalion chief said a notification should have went out due to the serious nature of the chemical that was leaked.

Information on Chlorine Gas Exposure

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), exposure to chlorine gas occurs through skin contact, eye contact, or by breathing in air that contains chlorine.

Signs and symptoms of chlorine exposure include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Coughing
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Watery eyes
  • Burning pain and sensation in the nose, throat, eyes, and on the skin

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