Learn about the poisonous "yellow gas" that leaked at the port of Aqaba, its dangers and symptoms
Circulating clips of the toxic gas leak in the Jordanian port of Aqaba, raised a yellow cloud emitted over the place.
The accident caused the death of 5 people and the injury of 234 others, while the concerned authorities controlled the leak at a later time.
Chlorine gas is recognizable by its pungent and irritating odor, which is similar to cleaning "bleach", and the strong odor may provide sufficient warning to people of exposure.
Chlorine itself is not flammable, but it can react explosively or form explosive compounds with other chemicals such as turpentine and ammonia.
According to the CDC, chlorine gas is one of the most important components of sodium chloride (salt), known since ancient times, but chlorine as a gas was not known until the 17th century.
Chlorine is greenish-yellow in color, is denser than air, has a very pungent odor, and reacts quickly with other elements.
It is considered one of the most important ingredients used daily in products that kill germs and bacteria, dyes industry, pesticides, water purification and is used as a bleach for fabrics.
It can be compressed into a liquid state, allowing it to be stored and transported.
When chlorine is released in the liquid state, it turns into a gas that settles near the ground and diffuses rapidly.
Also, chlorine itself is not flammable, but it can have explosive effects when interacting with other chemicals such as ammonia.
It is a toxic substance that is not prohibited, unless it is used as a weapon, according to the Chemical Weapons Convention, which criminalizes the use of toxic substances to harm others, which is what actually happened during the First World War.
How can people be exposed to yellow gas?
People's risk of exposure depends on how close they are to where the chlorine was released.
If chlorine gas is released into the air, people may be exposed through skin or eye contact.
They may also be exposed by breathing air that contains chlorine.
If liquid chlorine is released into the water, people may be exposed by touching or drinking water that contains chlorine.
If liquid chlorine comes into contact with food, people may be exposed by eating contaminated food.
Chlorine gas is heavier than air, so it will settle in low areas.
Immediate signs and symptoms of chlorine exposure
The following signs and symptoms may occur during or immediately after exposure to dangerous concentrations of chlorine:
Burning pain, redness, and blisters on the skin if exposed to gas.
Skin injuries similar to frostbite can occur if you are exposed to liquid chlorine.
A burning sensation in the nose, throat and eyes.
Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath.
These may appear immediately if high concentrations of chlorine gas are inhaled, or may be delayed if low concentrations of chlorine gas are inhaled.
Fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema) that may be delayed for a few hours.
Nausea and vomiting.
The danger of chlorine depends on how close people are to it, the amount and concentration released, and the length of time people have been exposed to it.
Its smell can be identified at a concentration of three parts per million, and symptoms of coughing and vomiting occur at a concentration of 30 parts per million, and it is a devastating weapon if large quantities are inhaled at a concentration of 1000 parts per million.
The release of chlorine gas into the air has effects on the eyes, skin and respiratory system, as it leads to blurred vision, redness and sores on the skin, burning in the nose, throat and eyes, coughing and breathing difficulties.
Symptoms occur more quickly if higher concentrations of chlorine are inhaled.
Chlorine gas reacts with water in the lung mucosa to form tissue-damaging hydrochloric acid.
The effects of chlorine gas on the respiratory tract can be reduced by wearing masks containing activated carbon or other filters, and by quickly getting out of the area affected by the toxic gas and breathing in fresh air.
Clothes must be changed quickly and the body washed with soap and water.
Chlorine is one of the first poisonous gases used in wars. The German army used it during the First World War in a battle near the Belgian city of Ypres when it released quantities of this gas from cylinders stored in the trenches.
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