As it is known, the lacquer-ethynol storages of “Nairit” chemical factory have been incessantly burning since yesterday. The RA Ministry of Emergency Situations has stated that the material most probably self-ignited and that the “burning products (water and carbon dioxide) do not pose a danger to the people”. The material really can have self-ignited (in case of breaking maintenance rules) but the information about the burning products is not true, to say the least.
It Affects the Central Nervous System
First of all, let us try to understand what material lacquer-ethynol is and what properties it has. In professional literature (paints, varnishes, protective coatings), it is possible to find some information about the composition of the material called lacquer-ethynol.
Lacquer-ethynol does not have a stable composition and according to the technical specifications (ВТУ 1267-54), it can contain 42-50% dry material (diphenyl acetylene polymer), 1.5-2.5% antioxidants (phenols, amines, other), and the rest are solvents (xylene, white spirit, naphtha, or other).
The most common solvent in the composition of lacquer, namely, the xylene, is considered a toxic substance, and this is explicitly mentioned in the literature. According to the World Health Organization, in case of acute poisoning with it, it affects especially the central nervous system.
Currently, it is not known how much xylene was emitted to the atmosphere due to the Nairit fire. But taking into account the comparatively high boiling temperature of the xylenes (138 – 144°C), the scale of the fire and the large amount of smoke, it can be claimed that a certain amount has surely passed to the atmosphere. Nevertheless, the Ministries of Nature Protection and Health evade the issue of their content in the atmosphere.
Besides the Water and Carbon Dioxide
Let us address the part of the statement that said that only carbon dioxide and water are burning products due to the fire.
Everybody has seen that the black smoke of the fire has covered the whole surrounding areas and can be seen from faraway parts of Yerevan. Black smoke clouds have been formed.
The black color of the smoke is due to the presence of very small soot particles in the air, as a result of which it becomes visible. Any schoolchild knows that the soot is one of the types of carbon, amorphous carbon, which is generated due to incomplete combustion of organic compounds. In contrast, in case of complete combustion, soot is not generated. Rather, carbon dioxide and water vapor are generated.
Every time the gas of the cooker burns, it burns completely. No smoke or soot are generated, and, thus. It is completely safe. But in case of malfunctioning of the cooker, incomplete combustion takes place. Thus, not only soot but also carbon monoxide is generated, which, as it is known, is a deadly poison.
Soot is a confirmed carcinogen (cancerous substance), and carbon monoxide is poisonous. Considering the presence of visible smoke and the amounts of burning materials, we can assert that at least these two materials have been emitted to the atmosphere as a result of the fire. But again neither the Ministry of Nature Protection, nor the Ministry of Health has addressed this issue.