butyl acrylate toxicity

Tom McCloud McCloud at dtpax2.ncifcrf.gov
Mon Nov 2 16:45:40 EST 1998


    There was a terrible, fiery traffic accident on US Rt. 50 near
Clarksburg, W.Va. two weeks ago.   A tanker truck carrying butyl
acrylate overturned and burned, killing the driver.   This post is about
the response of the state highway department, which declared that since
the extremely hazardous chemical, butyl acrylate, had soaked into the
asphalt and bed of the roadway it would be necessary to rip that up and
carry it to a hazardous waste site for disposal, and rebuild and re-pave
the roadway before it could be opened to traffic.
I'm not a toxicologist, but I am a chemist.   I read the MSD for butyl
acrylate, and it's LD50 in mice is in the grams range.  It is not a
carcinogen.  It is less flammable than gasoline. It does not contain a
halogen.  In my own lab I would treat it like any other run-of-the-mill
slightly flammable chemical, without great concern.     So I have to
think that the response of the highway department was excessive for this
specific case.   A good cleanup, for sure, and maybe a fresh coat of
asphault over the wreck site, but dig it up and haul it someplace for
burial???  Is that really called for?   Looking for some expert
commentary.
                                                                Tom
McCloud

Frederick Cancer Research




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