Douglas Co. Health: chemical plant fire could have caused inhalation injury

(Omaha, NE) -- The Douglas County Health Department says the possibility of inhalation injuries exist following a chemical plant fire this week.

On Monday, a chemical fire occurred at Nox-Crete Manufacturing, located near 20th Street and Woolworth Avenue. At the time of the fire it was recommended that residents living between 13th and 20th Streets and Leavenworth to Martha Streets be evacuated secondary to the smoke exposure. Nox-Crete has since filed a Notification of Environmental Concern report with the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy for the hazardous material spill related to the fire.

The Douglas County Health Department says large quantities of acids, bases, and solvents were housed in the building. A complete list of chemicals involved in the fire is not yet available, but the following products have been named to date: mineral spirits, naphtha, and Acid.

DCHD says for the communities that surround the location of the fire, the potential for inhalational injury exists. The health department says inhalational injury is damage to the respiratory tract or lung tissue from heat, smoke, or chemical irritants carried into the airway during inspiration. The severity of injury depends on several factors, including the ignition source, the size and diameter of the particles in the smoke, the duration of the exposure, and the solubility of the gases. Inhalational injury can affect the airways as well as result in systemic toxicity, often secondary to inhalation of carbon monoxide.

The health department says once exposure stops, symptoms from inhaling carbon monoxide or fine particles generally diminish but may last for a couple of days. Anyone with persisting or frequent symptoms that they believe are associated with the smoke exposure are being encouraged to see their health care provider, with supportive symptomatic treatment generally recommended. The Douglas County Health Department says it is currently not aware of any specific air quality concerns following the fire.

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