YSU chemist: Youngstown chlorine spill no laughing matter

chlorine spill in youngstown, ohio is serious business


YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Chlorine is a very useful gas.

It is used to disinfect our water and it is in many household cleaners.

But it also can be very deadly. Chlorine is one of the most dangerous chemicals in common use.

“We use it for labs, in research,” Youngstown State University Health and Safety Specialist Tim Styranec said. “It depends on the experiment. We use very small amounts of it because it is so dangerous. We try to avoid using it because it’s so corrosive and so toxic and so dangerous.”

That’s why emergency crews responded so quickly Monday morning after reports of a chlorine leak at the Youngstown wastewater treatment plant. Hazardous materials crews were able to contain the leak and said that they believe there is no public health risk posed by the spill.

Styranec’s job is to keep people safe around dangerous chemicals. Just last year, Youngstown State University was home to a chemical spill. Luckily, no one was hurt.

“The main concern is to actually evacuate the area as quickly as possible,” Styranec said. “You need to avoid breathing the gas at all costs.”

Chlorine is very dangerous to handle and is assigned a hazard level of four, the most dangerous level, by safety authorities.

“It means essentially that it’s fatal by inhalation,” Styranec said. “The best thing to do is evacuate the area and avoid any kind of contact with the material.”

The gas will irritate your airways.

“Coughing, wheezing, it can be made worse if you have any kind of health condition like asthma,” Styranec said. “The gas is corrosive so you will notice on your skin like a burning sensation.”

Professionals say you should seek medical help if you think you’ve been exposed.

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