Thursday, 13 July 2017

Re: Original Post on Grenfell Tower

That post had been amended and appended and become quite long, and it unwittingly included a widely-published bit of misinformation, that the plastic filling in the panels was polyethylene, which could not possibly have evolved the cyanide gas that survivors were treated for, as is mentioned in some of the updates. It now turns out that the plastic filling was some variation on polyurethane or polyisocyanurate foam, which definitely would create cyanide. But it isn't yet totally clear that this is really what the plastic filling was, and lots of early reports said polyethylene (which would have to be have been in the form of fibre rather than foam.) The structural panels mentioned in the post ARE recycled polyethylene, but the tooling that makes them could be adjusted, via an appropriate mould-heating "profile" to use polypropylene or other plastics that might available in bulk as waste from some other process.

It is also worth noting that if the (different) plastic used in the Aluminium Composite Material skins of the offending cladding panels was any relative of PVC, then the toxic smoke will have included dioxin as well as cyanide. This is very important, as dioxin is a long-term poison, sometimes producing skin problems in the short to medium term, and, eventually, various cancers. From very small doses: it may be slow-acting but it is many times as toxic as cyanide. Survivors (and bystanders/neighbours) of the Grenfell Tower fire, need to see their doctors if they suffer skin problems or other unexplained illness, so that the possibility of dioxin poisoning gets entered onto their notes so that in the future, the right actions are taken if any of the possible cancers crop up. These can be difficult to diagnose early enough for effective treatment if doctors don't have some sort of a clue as to what is going on, so survivors need a prominent comment in their medical notes.

An edit is needed, which will be done when the truth about the filling becomes clearer. The post has been reverted to draft, but not deleted, pending this. In the meantime, there will shortly appear a new post on an earlier disaster in the British Isles (though, "outside London"). See above.

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