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Nox-Crete disclosed which chemicals were present during the fire: Here's a toxicologist's take

Nox Crete Chemical Fire Omaha
Posted at 6:49 PM, Jun 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-10 20:07:52-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — It has been 11 days since a fire destroyed a large warehouse at chemical manufacturing company Nox-Crete in downtown Omaha.

After days of waiting, the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) released on their portal a document from Nox-Crete that includes the list of chemicals in the warehouse of any quantity over 4,000 pounds.

The lists of chemicals may look confusing or even concerning to an average reader.

Nearly 150,000 pounds of hydrotreated heavy naphthenic petroleum distillate, around 20,000 pounds of hydrochloric acid and over a dozen other chemicals were disclosed.

3 News Now talked with Dr. Ron Kirschner, Medical Director of Nebraska Regional Poison Control.

"If they're feeling okay, most likely they will be, but there's going to be a lot of variability,” said Kirschner.

Kirschner said the list is diverse with volatile and less volatile, heavier hydrocarbons. He said the acids on the list stand out.

"Those are going to be more irritating, and so those can irritate your lungs and your breathing passages. And so people that got more of that irritating effect ... more potential lung injury,” said Kirschner.

Kirshner mentioned other chemicals could have people light-headed, sleepy or even feeling silly afterwards, but he was noticeably not particularly alarmed about any of the chemicals during the 20-minute interview.

He said the effects could vary from person to person.

"Because it's so hard to predict how it's going to affect the particular individual depending on these variables, their location, their time of exposure, if they're having troubles with their breathing get checked out,” said Kirschner.

Still, he said, some people called poison control with symptoms, and the Omaha Professional Firefighters Association told 3 News Now that a few firefighters also sought medical attention days after the fire.

"You can't get out of there because it's your job to be fighting this fire and you could have a problem. You could potentially have some persistent breathing difficulties so that could be an issue,” said Kirschner.

Journalists who provided news coverage of the fire for 3 News Now reported feeling extremely thirsty for multiple days. Kirschner said that makes sense as people may have inhaled acids, and their bodies would have tried to get rid of that acid from the lungs and therefore more water vapor left the body.

See an extended cut of the interview with Kirschner below.

Extended Interview: Chemicals In Nox-Crete Fire

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