Jun 16, 2011 12:02 AM by Shawn Kline

Doctors, chemists raise health concerns over explosion

Tuesday's explosion in New Iberia is raising concerns from doctors and chemists. Some of those chemicals involved in the explosion could cause side effects for people nearby. A few of the chemicals used at the plant include xylene, toluene and methanol. All, highly explosive chemicals. Now, residents are voicing some health complaints in the aftermath.

"It's unusual," one resident said. "I wasn't feeling the same after I left."

He complained of being light-headed and experienced some headaches. It's statements like that are common in New Iberia now, after a chemical explosion rocked some nearby homes.
Louisiana's Department of Environmental Quality says air measurements in the area are at safe levels but experts say there are some risks.

"If you around this fire and breathed in some of the smoke and fumes, you'll probably have some symptoms," Dr. Gary Guidry said.

Dr. Guidry is a pulmonologist at Lafayette General. In short, he studies lungs.
Guidry says if chemicals like xylene and methanol are airborne, it won't take much to start seeing side effects.

"Headache, nausea, vomiting, CNS (central nervous system) depression," he listed. "For toluene, they can go into pulmonary edema which is fluid building up in the lungs."

The list of possible problems doesn't just stop with people. Chemist Wilma Subra says the affected area also includes local farms and food supplies.

"Any of the hydrocarbons that are real stable or any heavy metals in those chemicals could be deposited in the soil." Subra says, "and last a very, very long time."

Doctors say if you do experience any unusual symptoms, pay a visit to your physician because if some of these symptoms go untreated, there could be more long-term issues.



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