State officials have reported that three contract workers were burned by sulfuric acid while working at the Baton Rouge ExxonMobil chemical plant. The refinery was reportedly in the middle of normal operations when the workers were "contacted with sulfuric acid," said Exxon spokesperson Sarah Nordin.
All three of the workers were initially treated at the chemical plant, but two of them were eventually taken to a local hospital for further treatment. The Department of Environmental Quality has begun an investigation into why the sulfuric acid exposure occurred—Exxon is investigating the case as well. Reporters have not received details yet.
The Effects of Sulfuric Acid Exposure
The Agency for Toxic Substances (under the Department of Health & Human Services) reports that sulfuric acid is highly corrosive when exposed to any human tissue. When in mist form—a likely event inside a chemical refinery—breathing it can cause damage to the respiratory system and even erode teeth. Contact with the skin or eyes causes chemical burns and sometimes blindness.
Our chemical plant accident attorneys hope the DEQ's investigation provides definitive answers about what this happened. Our hearts go out to the workers who were injured, and we're hoping for their full and immediate recovery.