LISTEN: Wear a mask and stay indoors, says toxicologist amid acrid smell in Cornubia

LISTEN: Wear a mask and stay indoors, says toxicologist amid acrid smell in Cornubia

A toxicologist has given residents in Durban's northern areas, like Cornubia and Umhlanga, some crucial health advice. 

UPL Chemical Plant in Cornubia burning factory Durban SA Unrest 2
Nokukhanya N Mntambo

Dr Gerhard Verdoorn from the Griffon Poison Information Centre has been speaking about the warehouse in Cornubia torched by looters. 


The complex housed crop solution products. 


READ: Warning over levels of air pollution following Durban unrest


Concerned residents north of the city complained of a chemical smell as the warehouse burned for days last week. 


"The best thing for people to do is to wear a double clinical mask like they wear for Covid, a cotton one underneath and a clinical mask on the other side and keep the outer one moist and replace it very often and if there's irritation in the nasal,” Verdoorn says.


“Get typical nose oils in the pharmacy or take normal petroleum jelly and keep the mucus membranes inside nose moist, that will stop the nose from becoming dry and absorbing any chemicals and causing that discomfort.


"If there is any eye or skin irritation, just wash of with soft soap and water and rib a good moisturising agent into the skin or even just the olive oil onto the skin. 


"We do believe that most of the threat is over now and the threat is quite low, but we still advise people to wear the respiratory masks and to keep themselves indoors. But we do advise people that if they have little infants like children younger than six months, if they can vacate the area for the next 24 hours, it will be advisable for them to keep those little kids out of harms way."


Verdoorn was brought in by UPL Chemical Plant to assess health concerns and the implications posed by the fire. 


UPL South Africa says there were also fungicides and herbicides and that most of them were probably destroyed. 


READ: Dead fish, choking smoke: Collateral damage piles up from burnt Durban factory


But it says some herbicides may not have burned out completely, adding that eye and respiratory tract irritants may've been present in the smoke.


It says at this stage it knows these chemicals were suspended in the atmosphere and are noticeable during the late night and early hours of the morning, resulting in an acrid smell over northern parts of Durban.


Listen below: 

UPL South Africa says exposure in the short term to some of the chemicals contained in the crop solution products may result in dermal, eye and respiratory irritation.

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