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Dangers of Xylene Exposure to Residents Around the ITC Deer Park Facility Fire



Recently a fire started just before 11 a.m. at the ITC Deer Park facility Sunday March 17, 2019. Firefighters were unable to prevent the flames from spreading overnight, causing damage to a total of 8 tanks, containing NAPHTHA and XYLENE.

Both are gasoline components, which are used are in gas blend stocks used in the production of finished gasoline and base oil used for machine lubrication.

NAPHTHA can cause irritation to eyes and the respiratory system. It affects the central nervous system and is harmful and even fatal if it is swallowed.

What is Xylene?

Xylene is a colorless liquid that has a sweet odor. Xylene is highly flammable and insoluble. Xylene is generally a synthetic chemical; however, there are instances which it can be found naturally in petroleum, coal tar, and forest fires.

What is Xylene Used for?

Xylene is one of the top 30 chemicals produced within the United States.

Xylene is primarily used as a solvent (a liquid that can dissolve other substances), particularly in the printing, rubber and leather industries. Xylene is also used as:

• Shellac
• Pesticides
• Rust Preventatives
• Airplane Fuel
• Lacquers
• Cleaning Agent
• Varnish
• Paint Thinner and Remover
• Gasolines

What Happens to Xylene in the Environment?

Xylene is a liquid, therefore it can easily leak into soil, surface water or groundwater. Xylene can enter air in large amounts after spills or fires.

Because Xylene evaporates quickly, most xylene released into the air is broken down by sunlight and less harmful chemicals within a couple of days. However, if xylene make its way down into underground water, it may remain for several months before being broken down.

How Might I be Exposed to Xylene?

In this particular instance, people who live near the ITC Deer Park Plant may be at risk for heightened exposure to xylene due to the large amount of exposure. Harris County Public Health says that the elderly, children and those who have respiratory issues may also be negatively impacted.


What are the Health Effects of Xylene?

The nervous system, respiratory system, cardiovascular system, and kidneys are primarily affected by exposure to xylene. Effects can include:

• Labored Breathing
• Impaired Pulmonary Function
• Increased Heart Palpitation
• Severe Chest Pain
• Accumulation of Fluid in Lungs
• Respiratory Depression or Arrest
• Ventricular Arrhythmias


Symptoms of Xylene exposure include:
• Eye Irritation
• Headaches
• Dizziness
• Fatigue
• Tremors
• Incoordination
• Nausea
• Vomiting
• Stomach Discomfort
• Impaired Short-term Memory
• Impaired Reaction Time
• Alterations in Equilibrium
• Anxiety
• Inability to Concentrate
• Lack of Muscle Coordination
• Death
• Coma
• Impaired Vision
• Paralysis
• Skin Irritation

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

Is There a Medical Test That Shows Whether I Have Been Exposed to Xylene?

Tests of blood and urine are available to determine if you have been exposed to xylene. However, because xylene quickly leaves the body, these tests must be taken within hours after exposure.

While these tests can indicate exposure to xylene, they cannot be used to predict which health effects may, if at all, develop as a result of the exposure.

How can I Reduce my Family's Risk of Exposure to Xylene from the ITC Deer Park Fire?


1. Stay inside and as far away from the area if possible
2. Drink lots of fluids if exposed for an extended amount of time to help flush your system
3. Face Masks will not help due to a lack of proper seal
4. Prevent children from playing outside for the time being.
5. Demand the polluter clean up the contaminated site
6. If necessary, demand the polluter install a vapor mitigation system to get rid of toxic vapors.
7. Contact an experienced environmental lawyer to help you with each of these steps.

What Should I do if I'm Concerned my Health may be Affected?


If you believe you may have been exposed to xylene and your health has been effected, contacted a doctor familiar with chemical exposure. Let them know if you have been exposed to xylene and bring any xylene test results.

At the Pusch and Nguyen Law Firm, our mission is to ensure the safety of individuals and protect the rights of those harmed by negligent corporations. Our lawyers are knowledgeable about the negative effects of Xylene and Benzene, including oil refinery workers and barge workers exposure. We understand the health impacts of Xylene products, and the many critical issues that arise in xylene litigation, including:


• Determining and proving our clients' exposure to xylene and materials such as benzene, gasoline, crude oil, and various solvents
• Analyzing relevant circumstances in order to take legal action based on products or premises liability laws – against a negligent manufacturer, premises owner, employer, contractor or other party responsible for disease-causing benzene exposure
• Effective pursuit of claims against plants


We are prepared to look at all angles on your potential lawsuit and take action for you. We encourage you to call us and request a free consultation today. We handle personal injury and toxic torts cases on a contingency basis, so you will pay no attorney fees unless we succeed in obtaining compensation for you.

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