Trichloroisocyanuric acid: What is it and why should you care?

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      Yesterday (March 4) may have been the first time you heard of trichloroisocyanuric acid. It's the chemical that's been burning since yesterday when a fire broke out in shipping containers at Port Metro Vancouver, prompting evacuations in the area.

      If you're curious to know more about what it exactly is that's been burning, here's a brief summary of what the substance is and how it affect people (with information compiled from Thermo Fisher Scientific and the U.S. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention):

      • Trichloroisocyanuric acid is described as a white, crystalline powder with a chlorine odour that is used to kill bacteria. It is used to treat water, such as in swimming pools, or to bleach textiles.

      • It isn't combustible but it can enhance the combustion of other substances.

      • When it burns, it releases chlorine gas.

      • It is a skin, eye, and respiratory irritant. Some side effects of inhalation include coughing, sore throats, or breathing difficulties (including wheezing).

      • It is toxic to aquatic organisms and it may negatively impact the aquatic environment over the long-term.

      According to Vancouver Coastal Health, the highest risk is over. However, they point out that side effects may take up to 24 hours to manifest.

      Anyone with pre-existing lung conditions (such as asthma) particularly should watch for any symptoms (as described above) to develop.

      If you develop any symptoms, you should seek medical attention immediately from a walk-in clinic, family doctor, or emergency department.



      thanks craig!

      Mar 5, 2015 at 12:47pm

      I appreciate your article and the information. its in sharp contrast to the first article i read about the port fire yesterday, entitled "The port, the port, the port is on fire (photos)" ... i'm not sure whether your colleague was trying to be funny - but covering a potentially dangerous chemical fire with that kind of title is pretty amateur at best.


      Mar 5, 2015 at 1:33pm

      And the symptoms would be...?

      Craig Takeuchi

      Mar 5, 2015 at 1:58pm

      The symptoms are described as the inhalation side effects.