What Is Anhydrous Ammonia?

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(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.