Disasters and Emergencies
Hazardous materials are chemical substances, which if released or misused can pose a threat to the environment or health. These products are either toxic, flammable, corrosive, reactive, or a combination of these properties.
- Toxic products are poisonous or cause illness. Examples are household cleaners, paint thinner, pesticides and medication (in certain amounts or for certain people).
- Flammable products ignite or burn easily. Examples include paint, paint thinner, and many automotive products.
- Corrosive products can eat through other materials. Examples are acid, automotive batteries, and oven, toilet bowl and drain cleaners.
- Reactive products can create poisonous vapors when mixed with other products. Some can explode when exposed to heat, air or water, or when shaken.
A hazardous materials accident can occur anywhere. Communities located near chemical manufacturing plants are particularly at risk. However, hazardous materials are transported on our roadways, railways and waterways daily, and nearly all households use products that contain hazardous materials, so any area is considered vulnerable to an accident.
Household Hazardous Materials
Household hazardous materials are found in most of our homes. They have labels that contain the following words: Caution, Danger, Poison, or Warning. You can safely use these items by adhering to the following:
- Store all household products according to the instructions on the label.
- Keep chemicals and medications out of reach of children.
- Never mix household chemicals together! They may react, ignite or explode. For example, mixing bleach with ammonia is very dangerous; doing so will release a toxic gas.
- Read instructions on how to dispose of chemicals properly.
- If possible, recycle or reuse leftover hazardous materials.
- Visit the Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ website for information on how to safely store and where to dispose of specific materials.
- Find out the best ways to dispose of unused medication through the Iowa Pharmacy Association’s website.
Know what to do before, during, and after a hazardous materials incident.
Iowa disaster history
Doon Train Derailment of 2018
Thirty-two rail cars of a Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) train derailed about a mile south of Doon, Iowa, dumping 160,000 gallons of crude oil into the floodwaters of the Rock River during the early morning hours of Friday, June 22, 2018. Railroad, federal, state and local agencies all took part in the response during the 18 months of clean up. The National Transportation Safety Board report cited heavy rainfall in the area 48 hours before the June 22 derailment just south of Doon, near Rock Valley. The report said the water washed out track and flooded a tributary of the nearby Little Rock River.
Video credit: KELOLAND News