Houston's 'tox-doc' explains what we know about propylene

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- After a massive explosion in northwest Houston Friday morning, residents were urged to avoid the area.

Houston police responded to reports of an explosion at Watson Grinding and Manufacturing, a machining and manufacturing company, around 4:25 a.m.

SEE MORE: Massive explosion in NW Houston felt the area

The owner of the facility says the explosion was caused by a propylene tank which is an extremely flammable gas that is used to make a variety of products.

ABC13 spoke with environmental toxicologist Dr. Noreen Khan-Mayberry about the incident.

RELATED: Moment of explosion caught on video at Watson Grinding in NW Houston

She says propylene is a respiratory hazard that could cause eye and skin irritation. She says people with asthma and allergies should be extra cautious if they're in the area.

You should use a half respirator and protect your skin if you're taking medication that makes your skin sensitive, Dr. Khan-Mayberry said.

Also, those with chronic skin diseases like psoriasis are urged not to drive in the area.

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