Toxic orange cloud over Spain

Wow.  This is something out of Sci-Fi — except that it’s real.  I wonder how many people were aware of the manufacturer having this toxic stuff?

I looked up nitric acid here –really toxic stuff.

And ferric chloride is really bad — with abdominal pain, diarrhea, shock and collapse from exposure. This report says these ingredients are rocket fuel.  Wow.

And the most important thing is…

…they don’t know what to do about it — except wait for it to be “dissipated” by the wind.

Not feeling too confident with that *solution*, I went looking for disposal recommendations.

Ferric chloride disposal: don’t put it down the drain because of residual copper.  Great. So this orange cloud will eventually end up in the waterways and then the soil.  Apparently, it’s used in etching stuff, and what is really scary is that apparently anyone can buy it –whether they know how to dispose of it properly or not.  Mindboggling that the first poster on this site bought this toxic stuff with no knowledge of how it is to be disposed of — and only asked the question in passing.  He’s the dangerous type that doesn’t know what he’s doing and apparently couldn’t give a rat’s behind on the environment.  Dangerous.  His brainlessness not only will affect him, but the others who come in contact with the ferric chloride after he disposes of it (by probably putting it down the drain).

Apparently it can be neutralized with washing soda, but what does that mean, exactly?  Not being a chemistry person, I’m curious as to what their definition of neutralize is?  Because my experience with the chemical industry is not one of safety nor of transparency, so when they say that a chemical can be made harmless with another material, I’m a bit skeptical.

Hold onto your seats, gang, because we’ve only just started —

Here is the Oklahoma State University website’s discussion on what to do with chemicals used on campus for nitric acid.

Again, nitric acid cannot be disposed of in water.  Note that heavy metals are also included in this bunch.  Toxic, toxic, toxic stuff.

So, further down, you see the step-by-step guidelines for neutralizing the acid.  Note that it releases carbon dioxide while being neutralized.  Carbon dioxide, folks — releasing more toxins into the air.  Is this a solution? Doesn’t appear that way to me — a toxin transformed into another toxin is STILL a toxin!

But, wait, here’s another website which really lays it out there plain and simple –nitric acid is bad news:

Major Hazards

Highly corrosive to the eyes, skin, and mucous membranes; powerful oxidizing agent that ignites on contact or reacts explosively with many organic and inorganic substances.


Concentrated nitric acid and its vapors are highly corrosive to the eyes, skin, and mucous membranes. Dilute solutions cause mild skin irritation and hardening of the epidermis. Contact with concentrated nitric acid stains the skin yellow and produces deep painful burns. Eye contact can cause severe burns and permanent damage. Inhalation of high concentrations can lead to severe respiratory irritation and delayed effects, including pulmonary edema, which may be fatal. Ingestion of nitric acid may result in burning and corrosion of the mouth, throat, and stomach. An oral dose of 10 mL can be fatal in humans.

Tests in animals demonstrate no carcinogenic or developmental toxicity for nitric acid. Tests for mutagenic activity or for reproductive hazards have not been performed.

Flammability and

Explosibility Not a combustible substance, but a strong oxidizer. Contact with easily oxidizible materials including many organic substances may result in fires or explosions.

Reactivity and Incompatibility

Nitric acid is a powerful oxidizing agent and ignites on contact or reacts explosively with a variety of organic substances including acetic anhydride, acetone, acetonitrile, many alcohols, thiols, and amines, dichloromethane, DMSO, and certain aromatic compounds


So…this stuff can cause blindness in addition to the stuff mentioned before.

Even more telling is that there have been no tests on mutagenic (affecting cells such as DNA) properties of this chemical.  That is outrageous considering its high level of toxicity.  Anything that toxic should have been tested for its effects on our cell growth.

There is such apathy towards chemicals — especially those in fragrances, fabric softeners, laundry detergents, etc.–that needs to stop.  I blame the media for a large part of this –they have not prominently featured the hazards of chemicals and the trail of toxins flowing into the air, the water, the soil, and our bodies.   We are kept in the dark.  Some of us don’t want to know because we don’t want to deal with it –because dealing with it would mean giving up conveeeniences.  So be it.  I’m with the ones who want to know and want to find non-chemical solutions or if there are none, then eliminating those aspects of industry that are toxic for us and all of nature.  If we don’t, it will eventually catch up to us, as I fear it has begun to already.


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