HUFFINGTON POST

Alarmingly High Levels Of Cyanide Detected Near China Warehouse Blast

Officials inspecting the aftermath of a deadly warehouse explosion in Tianjin, China detected dangerously high levels of cyanide. The Aug. 12 blasts in one of the country's biggest port cities killed at least 114 people and leveled the surrounding area.

Reuters reports that the levels were at least 277 times the standard limit, but according to AFP, the figure was over 350 times that limit.

"Cyanide was detected at eight water monitoring spots inside the warning zone, with levels at one spot exceeding limits by 356 times," an official from China's Ministry of Environmental Protection said, according to CNN. "Cyanide pollution is severe inside the warning zone. Outside the zone overall, the amount of cyanide detected is at normal range," he said.

 

Local authorities had said on Monday that they were working to clear the area of hazardous chemicals. But when inspectors from the Tianjin Environmental Protection Bureau tested the water around the blast site on Tuesday, they found alarmingly high levels of the chemical in several different locations. 

The warehouse likely contained around 700 tons of sodium cyanide, which is over 70 times the legal limit, according to the Guardian. 

 Cyanide poses a huge threat to humans. As Quartz points out, cyanide and water can form a toxic gas called hydrogen cyanide that is dangerous and even deadly when inhaled. When mixed with water, cyanide can combust. Officials worry that rain could trigger more explosions in the same area.  

According to Reuters, the warehouse was also closer than allowed to nearby houses.

A top U.N. safety official on Thursday criticized China for not sharing critical information that could have prevented the blast. According to the New York Times, workplace safety issues run rampant across the country. 

  • Brand new cars parked in Tianjin port that were badly damaged by the explosions, Aug. 13, 2015.
    STR/AFP/Getty Images
    Brand new cars parked in Tianjin port that were badly damaged by the explosions, Aug. 13, 2015.
  • Rescuers are seen at the site of the massive explosions in Tianjin on Aug. 13, 2015. 
    STR/AFP/Getty Images
    Rescuers are seen at the site of the massive explosions in Tianjin on Aug. 13, 2015. 
  • A damaged police car is seen at the site of the massive explosions in Tianjin on Aug. 13, 2015.
    STR/AFP/Getty Images
    A damaged police car is seen at the site of the massive explosions in Tianjin on Aug. 13, 2015.
  • Construction workers walk near the site of massive explosions in Tianjin, Aug. 13, 2015.
    ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images
    Construction workers walk near the site of massive explosions in Tianjin, Aug. 13, 2015.
  • Evacuees stay at a primary school in Tianjin on Aug.13, 2015.
    Tong Yu/CNSPHOTO/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images
    Evacuees stay at a primary school in Tianjin on Aug.13, 2015.
  • Smoke is seen out of the broken window of an apartment near the site of the explosions in Tianjin on Aug. 13, 2015.&nbsp
    STR/AFP/Getty Images
    Smoke is seen out of the broken window of an apartment near the site of the explosions in Tianjin on Aug. 13, 2015. 
  • Cars are burnt out after the explosions at a warehouse in Binhai New Area in Tianjin, on Aug. 13, 2015.
    ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images
    Cars are burnt out after the explosions at a warehouse in Binhai New Area in Tianjin, on Aug. 13, 2015.
  • People stay at a primary school after the emergency evacuation on Tianjin on Aug. 13, 2015. 
    Tong Yu/CNSPHOTO/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images
    People stay at a primary school after the emergency evacuation on Tianjin on Aug. 13, 2015. 
  • A woman receives treatment at Teda Hospital following the explosions in Tianjin on Aug. 13, 2015.
    Tong Yu/CNSPHOTO/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images
    A woman receives treatment at Teda Hospital following the explosions in Tianjin on Aug. 13, 2015.
  • Burnt car debris continues to smolder following the explosions at a warehouse in Tianjin on Aug. 13, 2015.
    ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images
    Burnt car debris continues to smolder following the explosions at a warehouse in Tianjin on Aug. 13, 2015.
  • Workers wait in the back of a truck as police block access near the site of a series of explosions in Tianjin, on Aug. 13, 20
    FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images
    Workers wait in the back of a truck as police block access near the site of a series of explosions in Tianjin, on Aug. 13, 2015. 
  • Two men walk past damaged containers at the site of an explosion in Tianjin, on Aug. 13, 2015.  
    GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images
    Two men walk past damaged containers at the site of an explosion in Tianjin, on Aug. 13, 2015.  
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