April 16, 2024

Arizona nitric acid leak: What officials recommend for those who may have been exposed

An Arizona interstate reopened on Wednesday evening a day after a deadly crash caused a tanker truck to leak hazardous material into the desert.

About two miles of Interstate 10 was closed in both directions for more than a full day after the truck crashed Tuesday afternoon and liquid nitric acid was determined to be leaking from the wreck.

Officials said people residing in the area could return home following evacuations.Β 

“The public may resume normal activities,” the Arizona Department of Public Safety said in a statement.

ARIZONA NITRIC ACID LEAK: SHELTER-IN-PLACE ORDER REINSTATED AFTER TUCSON INTERSTATE CRASH

Residents within a half-mile of the crash site had initially been told to leave, with those within a mile instructed to shelter in place. The shelter-in-place order was lifted, with authorities saying Wednesday morning that hazardous material had been removed and that crews were using dirt to keep more nitric acid from being released.

According to Fox 10 Phoenix, the Pima Department of Environment Quality said the Department of Public Safety told the agency the air was tested 100 yards from the site and found zero nitric acid in the air.Β 

Nitric acid is used to make ammonium nitrate for fertilizers and in the manufacture of plastics and dyes. The colorless liquid – which produces yellow or red fumes – is highly corrosive, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

ARIZONA NITRIC ACID SPILL CAUSED BY DEADLY ROLLOVER LEADS TO ‘EXTENSIVE CLOSURE’ OF FREEWAY, COMMUTES AFFECTED

Exposure to nitric acid can irritate the eyes, skin and mucous membranes. It can also cause delayed pulmonary edema, pneumonitis, bronchitis and dental erosion.

The Pima County Health Department said nitric acid can cause delayed lung complications up to 24 hours after exposure, and recommends that individuals who may have been in contact with the gas for more than 15 minutes assess themselves for exposure risk.

“If an individual has met that 15 minute or more exposure within a mile of the incident and developed respiratory difficulties or new symptoms (wheezing, shortness of breath; difficulty breathing, exacerbations of COPD or asthma) they should seek medical evaluation,” the department said. “It is possible that individuals who lived within a mile of the exposure and sheltered in place but were using air exchange that pulled air from the outside may have met this threshold.”

Those who drove through or past the crash and the chemical plume should not have been affected, officials said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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