Environment
10:33 am
Mon October 29, 2012

5 Things to Know About Butadiene

A train derailed in southwestern Jefferson County this morning, and emergency personnel have reported that the chemical butadiene is leaking from a railcar. People living near Abbotts Beach Road in Jefferson County and Katherine Station Road in Bullitt County have been evacuated, and there's a shelter-in-place with a two-mile radius from the spill. Here are some things to know about the chemical that's leaking.

  1. It’s pronounced “BUTTE-a-die-een.”
  2. It’s a colorless gas that smells slightly like gasoline.
  3. Butadiene is highly flammable. When it comes into contact with air, it can form violently explosive peroxides, which can be exploded by mild heat or shock.
  4. Here’s what the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has to say about it:  "Butadiene  may cause irritation to the eyes, throat, nose, and lungs. Frostbite may also occur with skin exposure. Acute high exposures  may cause damage to the central nervous system or cause symptoms such as distorted blurred vision, vertigo, general tiredness, decreased blood pressure, headache, nausea, decreased pulse rate, and fainting. Chronic effects caused by exposure to 1,3-butadiene are controversial. Several human epidemiological studies have shown an increase in cardiovascular diseases and cancer. However, due to the small numbers of cancers and confounding factors such as smoking, and simultaneous exposure to benzene and styrene, a true causal relationship cannot be established."
  5. Butadiene is used in the manufacturing of rubber. It was used in large quantities in Louisville’s Rubbertown until voluntary emission reductions and the city’s Strategic Toxic Air Reduction program cut the emissions drastically.