Imelda led to unauthorized releases of benzene and other toxic pollutants
During the disaster of Tropical Storm Imelda, which led to power outages and equipment failures at petrochemical facilities, about 81,000 pounds of pollutants were released into the air without authorization, reports the Houston Chronicle's Perla Trevizo.
Though lower than estimates and not anywere near as damaging as the 8.3 million pounds of so-called "unauthorized releases" during Hurricane Harvey, the number includes more than 2,000 pounds of 1,3 butadiene, as well as 336 pounds of the notorious carcinogen benzene in Harris County and almost 1,200 pounds in Jefferson County, where Beaumont and Port Arthur are located.
“Both benzene and 1,3 butadiene are cancer-causing toxic air pollutants of great concern in Houston. There is no safe level of exposure to these pollutants,” Dr. Loren Hopkins, the city's chief environmental science officer for the Houston Health Department, tells Trevizo.
“While we don’t really know the long-term consequences of spikes such as those that have occurred during emergencies,” she adds, “we do know that we need to limit exposure to them as much as possible. It is important to know the correct amount of emissions in a timely fashion to inform public health decisions.”
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