Potential Chemicals Leaked in Carson Public Nuisance

Potential Chemicals Leaked in Carson Public Nuisance

Residents of Carson, California have filed a lawsuit due to being exposed to Hydrogen Sulfide, Benzene, and Acetaldehyde in the Dominguez Channel.

A beauty warehouse, which was distributing its ethanol-based hand sanitizer, caught fire on September 30th, 2021. As a result, debris entered the channel where vegetation started to decay, releasing large amounts of Hydrogen Sulfide into the area and surrounding cities. The sanitizer also contained benzene and acetaldehyde, chemicals known for causing cancer.

Many complaints were filed by hundreds of residents who suffered headaches, nausea, lightheadedness, and more. A foul odor also flooded the neighboring cities which made it uncomfortable to step outside.

What is Hydrogen Sulfide and Who Is at Risk of Being Exposed?

Hydrogen Sulfide is a colorless gas that is known to have a strong odor, like rotten eggs. Exposure to this chemical has the potential to cause irritation to the eyes as well as the respiratory system. It is used in many industries, however, those who work where rayon textiles are manufactured are most at risk. Workers in wastewater treatment, agricultural workers who manage storage pits or landfills on farms and petroleum, and natural gas workers involved in refining and drilling, are also those who are at risk of being exposed.

What is Benzene and Where Can it be Found?

Benzene is also a dangerous and poisonous chemical that is a natural part of crude oil, gasoline, and cigarette smoke. It also ranks within the top 20 among chemicals for production volume and is used in everyday items such as cleaning products or glue. Many industries use the chemical to make plastics, resins, nylon, and synthetic fibers. Benzine is also used for lubricants, rubbers, dyes, detergents, drugs, and pesticides.

People are exposed outdoors to benzene every day from gas stations, tobacco smoke, motor vehicle exhaust and industrial emissions. The indoor level of benzene, however, is generally higher due to products such as detergents, paints, glues, and furniture wax. Hazardous waste sites and gas stations typically have the highest levels of benzene compared to other areas and those who work in industries that make or use the chemical are at risk for being exposed to the highest levels of it.

How Does Benzene Affect the Body?

The way benzene affects the body is by causing cells not to work properly. For example, it may lead to bone marrow not being able to produce enough red blood cells, leading to anemia. It also has the potential to damage the immune system by altering blood levels of antibodies which causes the loss of white blood cells.

The severity of benzene poisoning is entirely dependent on the amount, route, length of time of exposure in addition to any preexisting medical conditions and age of the person exposed. Side effects of benzene exposure include drowsiness, dizziness, vomiting, rapid/irregular heartbeat, headaches, tremors, confusion, unconsciousness, and death at the highest levels.

What is Acetaldehyde?

Acetaldehyde is a clear liquid that also has a strong odor; however, it gives off more of a fruity smell. Due to its high concentrations, it may cause difficulty breathing among those who are exposed. Acetaldehyde is also known as ethanal and burns easily. It forms naturally within the body as well as plants.

Where can Acetaldehyde be Found?

This substance can be found in many fruits, cheese, and heated milk. Its primary use is to produce other chemicals, which include disinfectants, drugs, perfumes, and acetic acid.

People can be exposed to acetaldehyde by breathing in cigarette smoke, burning wood or a burning stove, fumes from gas pumps. Consuming alcohol may also expose an individual since your body produces acetaldehyde when it processes alcohol.

Those who work in the chemical industry may also come in contact with the substance.

How Does Acetaldehyde Affect the Body?

The effect of this substance is dependent on the quantity that is in your body, the length of exposure, and how often you are exposed. Other factors on the effect it has on your body depends on your health and the condition of the environment in which you were in when exposed.

Acetaldehyde has the potential to damage your lungs, heart, and blood vessels.

The brain, however, is most impacted by this type of poisoning. It may cause problems with brain activity and has the potential to negatively impact one’s memory. This can lead to amnesia which is a common effect for those who consume too much alcohol. 

References:

https://dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/files/acetaldehydefaq.pdf

https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/hydrogensulfide/default.html           

https://emergency.cdc.gov/agent/benzene/basics/facts.asp