HOUSTON, TX (March 17, 2019) – Air Alliance Houston Executive Director Bakeyah Nelson has issued the following statement on this morning’s incident at the ITC Deer Park chemical storage facility:
“While we do not have many details about the current situation at this point, we do know that this facility has a history of violations. We also know that anytime there is a fire, particulate matter is a health concern. According to the EPA, exposure to fine particulate is associated with cardiovascular damage, respiratory harm, and premature death, among other health issues. While little is known about the chemical composition of the PM from this fire, we know from the facility’s representative, that the chemical being burned is Naphtha, which is considered hazardous. We also know that PM can travel long distances and remain in the air for months. This means that communities beyond Deer Park can experience health impacts from this incident.
“We are in contact with Harris County Pollution Control Services and will provide an update as we learn more. This incident, coming on the heels of the fire at Exxon’s Baytown facility just a few days ago, is another tragic example of why it is so critical that we have a toxic alert system in place so that people are aware of the risks to their health and safety in a timely manner. During the 2017 legislative session, a number of environmental groups advocated for a Toxic Alert Bill (HB1923) that would notify residents when incidents like this occur to better protect their health and safety. However, the bill was unsuccessful.
“Residents should listen to first responders and children, older adults, people with existing chronic diseases, and pregnant women should be especially careful since they are more susceptible to the health impacts from air pollution.”
- Bakeyah Nelson, Air Alliance Houston Executive Director
Air Alliance Houston (AAH) is the leading air quality non-profit organization for the Houston region. AAH believes that everyone has a right to breathe clean air and where you live, work, learn, and play should not determine your health. Through applied research, education, and advocacy, AAH works to deliver clean air for a healthier future in Houston.