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Dangerous Chemicals Emitted by Texas Oil and Gas Refinery

EMSL Analytical tests for a variety of substances in our industrial hygiene laboratories nationwide.


Large amounts of pollutants were accidentally emitted from an oil and gas refinery near Houston, Texas.

On Tuesday, officials reported a leak in a heat exchanger tube. As a result, the company shut down one flexicoking unit used to separate heavy oils into fuels. The Texas Commission of Environmental Quality has reported that the shutdown caused a release of carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide, oxides of nitrogen (NOx), and sulfur dioxide into the air nearby.

At high concentrations, these substances can be very hazardous.
Exposure to carbon monoxide may cause impaired vision and coordination, headaches, dizziness, confusion, and nausea. At very high concentrations exposure to carbon monoxide can be fatal.

Exposure to hydrogen sulfide may cause irritation to the eyes and respiratory track, coughing, pain in breathing, and pain in the nose and throat. Symptoms of prolonged exposure to elevated concentrations may result in headache, dizziness, digestive disturbance, and death.

Oxides of nitrogen (NOx) is a generic term for the mono-nitrogen oxides NO and NO2 (nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide). They are produced from the reaction of nitrogen and oxygen gases used for combustion, especially at high temperatures and/or pressures. In atmospheric chemistry, the term means the total concentration of NO and NO2.

(NOx should not be confused with nitrous oxide [N2O], which is a greenhouse gas and has many uses as an oxidizer, an anesthetic, and a food additive.)
Inhalation of sulfur dioxide may cause difficulty breathing, respiratory irritation, pulmonary edema, and other symptoms, and at very high levels can be life threatening.

“After potentially harmful substances are released into the air, it is important to test samples to ensure that levels of these substances and their concentrations are not life threatening,” states Vince Daliessio, CIH, Project Manager at EMSL Analytical. “EMSL Analytical is the nation’s leading industrial hygiene laboratory and has decades of experience providing testing for harmful toxic substances and pollutants such as carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide, oxides of nitrogen, and sulfur dioxide.”

For more information on EMSL’s testing services, please contact EMSL at (800) 220-3675, visit, or email .

About EMSL Analytical, Inc.
EMSL Analytical is the nation’s leading testing laboratory with over 30 locations throughout the United States and Canada. We are a nationally recognized and locally focused provider specializing in consumer product, environmental, industrial hygiene, indoor air quality, microbiology, radon, food, and materials testing services to professionals and the general public. Please visit our website for a complete listing of accreditations from leading organizations, as well as state and federal regulating bodies



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