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West Fertilizer Co. Explosion: The Present Health Risks of Ammonia Exposure

Posted By Arnold & Itkin LLP || 19-Apr-2013

As a result of the devastating chemical plant explosion in West, Texas this week; there is a great concern regarding the present issue of ammonia exposure for those in the area of the accident. Sadly, many victims of the explosion have been injured and killed as a result, and our thoughts and prayers go out to all of those affected by this tragedy. At this time there are 15 fatalities and another 160 victims who are suffering from various levels of injuries from the exposure. However, not included in these numbers are the 2,800 people of the torn of West who were forced to breathe in the toxic fumes of ammonia because of the explosion as well.

West Fertilizer, Co. was a plant that the community relied on for their fertilizer used in the agricultural industry of the surrounding counties. However, because the plant relied on anhydrous ammonia (or ammonia without the presence of water), there is a present danger that these fumes may have been released in high levels to the community. Ammonia (NH3) is a potent nitrogen-based colorless gas, and in small dosages do not pose an immediate threat to the people, though in high quantities can resort to illness and possibly even death. Recent reports from the fertilizer plant state that they were currently sorting over 54,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia on their site in West. Due to the many dangers caused by the explosion, authorities have evacuated at least half of the town as a precautionary measure.

According to reports by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, different levels of exposure can cause differing reactions in a person. Some may experience irritations of the eyes, nose or throat; others may experience difficulty breathing, wheezing and chest pains. In more severe exposure cases victims may suffer from burns, blisters and even frost bite depending on the levels of the gas that was inhaled and the amount of water and other liquids it reacts to within the body. The CDC states that the easiest way to know if you have been exposed at any level is by its strong odor; if you can smell this, you are a likely victim of at least a small dosage of ammonia from the blast. They report that the scent is similar to that of household ammonia that you would have, though that product is water diluted and therefore not as strong. The ammonia used in the fertilizer plant is anhydrous, meaning completely dry; this makes the concentration levels much higher and it can be much more irritating to someone who is exposed. Fortunately, because of the strong odor, the Fire Department will able to more accurately monitor the air quality. At this time, the Waco police claim that the levels of exposure are not at a health threatening level.

For those who believe they have been exposed to any level of this chemical, hydration is absolutely crucial as it will help flush some of the chemical out of your body. Fresh air and oxygen are also important as well. In most cases, victims of ammonia exposure are able to recover in a decent amount of time and suffer not long term affects from the exposure; death is a very rare possibility for this chemical. However, no matter the level of exposure, visit your doctor immediately. In the event that you are a victim of this devastating plant explosion in West, our legal team here at Arnold & Itkin LLP want to help you fight for compensation for your pain and suffering. Whether your injuries and illnesses are caused by ammonia exposure, or the effects of the blast itself; contact us today for the industrial injury lawyer you deserve walking right by your side!

Client's portion of total recovery may be subject to Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement claims, Medicare/Medicaid liens or other third-party claims or liens. These verdicts and settlements are intended to be representative of cases handled by Arnold & Itkin, LLP. These listings are not a guarantee or prediction of the outcome of any other claims.

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