DuPont gas leak "very dangerous", but caused no damage

DuPont water tower in Dordrecht (Photo: Willemjans/Wikimedia Commons). (DuPont water tower in Dordrecht (Photo: Willemjans/Wikimedia Commons))

While the leak of carcinogenic formaldehyde at chemical company DuPont in Dordrecht was "very dangerous", it caused no immediate damage, State Secretary Sharon Dijksma of Infrastructure and Environment wrote to parliament. The long-term effects of the leak are not yet clear, the Financieele Dagblad reports. 

According to Dijksma, it is up to the employees and employers to launch an investigation into what the long-term consequences of the leak may be.

In August a total of 2,730 kilograms of formaldehyde gas leaked from DuPont in Dordrecht. On October 10th the gas again escaped from the factory. Chemical companies use formaldehyde for making hard plastic. At the insistence of the province Noord-Holland, DuPont stopped using the gas for the tie being.

Exposure to formaldehyde gas can cause symptoms like sore throats and watery eyes. Exposure to large amounts can cause tumors to grow. Formaldehyde is one of few substances known to definitely be carcinogenic.

"There is no discussion about whether the agent causes cancer. The only uncertain thing is from what concentration the risk is there", Martin van den Beg, professor of toxicology at the University of Utrecht, said to FD. He adds that the gas is so irritating that people notice it right away. "If people noticed nothing back then, then the concentration was probably low and so therefore was the risk. But this is not good and you definitely want to avoid repetition."