What Is Vinyl Chloride? Public Health Statement Explains - Boston News, Weather, Sports | FOX 25 | MyFoxBoston

What Is Vinyl Chloride? Public Health Statement Explains

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PAULSBORO, N.J. -

FOX 29 News is told that the U.S. Coast Guard is on the scene of a train derailment where highly-toxic vinyl chloride is reported to be leaking.

The bridge collapsed, sending three train cars into the Mantua Creek, and one is reported to be leaking the vinyl chloride, which is reported to be highly toxic and flammable.

It's possible the gas may account for the fog that was seen in the area after the derailment.

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), a federal public health agency of the U.S. Department of Health, previously published this public health statement on the substance.

That document says vinyl chloride, at room temperature, it is a colorless gas that burns easily and it is not stable at high temperatures. It exists in liquid form if kept under high pressure or at low temperatures.

Vinyl chloride has a mild, sweet odor, which may become noticeable at some levels in the air. However, the odor is of little value in preventing excess exposure.

It's a manufactured substance that does not occur naturally.

Most of the vinyl chloride produced in the U.S. winds up in polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which is used to make a variety of plastic products including pipes, wire and cable coatings, and packaging materials. Other uses include furniture and automobile upholstery, wall coverings, housewares, and automotive parts.

The ATSDR reports that, at one time, vinyl chloride was used as a coolant, as a propellant in spray cans, and in some cosmetics. However, since the mid-1970s, vinyl chloride mostly has been used in the manufacture of PVC.

Underwood Memorial Hospital says 18 people are reportedly having breathing difficulties. Four are being treated at that hospital.

Due to the derailment, all Paulsboro students should report to the Gibbstown campus this morning.

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