What Is Anhydrous Ammonia?
(CNN) — Firefighters at the scene of a massive fertilizer plant explosion in Texas were concerned Wednesday night about anhydrous ammonia.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, anhydrous ammonia is a pungent gas with suffocating fumes that is used as a fertilizer.
When exposed to humans, it can cause various problems:
• Anhydrous means without water
• Anhydrous ammonia can rapidly cause dehydration and severe burns if it combines with water in the body
• Symptoms can include breathing difficulty; irritation of the eyes, nose or throat; burns or blisters.
• Exposure to high concentrations can lead to death.
• Victims require treatment with large quantities of water for at least 15 minutes
• It must be stored at high pressure, according to the University of Minnesota.
• It is a low-cost, highly effective nitrogen-based fertilizer, the University of Arkansas said.
• It is one part nitrogen and three parts hydrogen.
• When released, the vapors initially move close to the ground, causing greater risk for exposure.