Health experts on big smoke plume: 'Stay inside and away'

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Tuesday, March 19, 2019
Deer Park plant fire: Health impacts from widespread plume of smoke
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Deer Park plant fire: Health impacts from widespread plume of smoke

DEER PARK, Texas (KTRK) -- The ongoing fire that continues to grow at the ITC Deer Park facility can have negative health effects if you're exposed to chemicals.

RELATED: ITC Deer Park plant fire spreads to several more tanks, shelter-in-place lifted

Overnight, the fire spread to six more tanks, bringing the total of tanks burning to eight. Company officials later reduced the number of tanks burning to six.

SEE ALSO: What we know about the chemicals burning in the tanks at the ITC plant in Deer Park

The original fire started Sunday in two tanks. One tank contains NAPHTHA, a component in gasoline. The second tank contains XYLENE, another gasoline component.

Out of concern for the health and safety of the public, affected workers and first responders, these are the most common symptoms you should look out for as you monitor your health, according to Harris County Public Health:

- Coughing

- Difficulty breathing

- Burning

- Irritation

- Redness to your eyes, nose and throat

Some people may also experience headaches, nausea or dizziness.

Harris County Public Health says that the elderly, children and those who have respiratory issues may also be negatively impacted.

Seek medical attention if you have any of the above symptoms or if they worsen.

Overall, HCA Houston Healthcare Southeast Chief Medical Officer John Tynes says the best thing to do is stay inside, especially for senior citizens, young children, and anyone with a respiratory condition.

Tynes added if the fire is put out soon, our health may be okay.

"It would really have to be a long-term, very extensive exposure to create long-term effects from something like this," Tynes said.

Tynes said face masks won't help because there isn't a tight enough seal.

The Air Alliance of Houston says there are blood tests if you think you've been exposed to chemicals like benzene. They recommend drinking lots of fluid to help flush your system if you are outside for a long period of time.

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