UIHC: Anhydrous ammonia burns on the rise in Iowa - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UIHC: Anhydrous ammonia burns on the rise in Iowa

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It's only April and the University of Iowa's Burn Treatment Center has seen higher-than-usual cases of anhydrous ammonia injuries this year.

It's that rise in injuries that doctors say is alarming.

Medical personnel at the University of Iowa's Burn Treatment Center say in just 2 weeks they've treated close to half a dozen patients with anhydrous injuries and they say that is alarming.

"It's always on our radar every spring, I mean we're in a farming community and definitely being in Iowa we know that this is out there and this chemical is dangerous for those that work with it, but it's really the significance of how many we've seen," said nurse manager Alison Pauley.

The injuries range from burning of the eyes, skin and throat after inhaling even the smallest amounts.

Kelley Williams' family has seen the effects firsthand…

Her dad was injured on the family farm while using anhydrous.

"My dad has had a chemical burn from it on both of his hands and now his hands are permanently rough and his skin is not normal," said Williams.

Doctors say there are permanent effects including eye damage and chronic lung injury.

"It's most important that they seek medical attention right away. It really is important that they irrigate right away, it's important that they take off their clothes that are contaminated with the anhydrous right away," said Dr. Lucy Wibbenmeyer, a burn surgeon at UIHC.

This year, the burn treatment center has treated both farmers and anhydrous retail personnel.

While medical experts are not sure why there are more anhydrous-related injuries this year, they say it definitely serves as a reminder.

"It really is a significant chemical and not takes the severity of that lightly. It's definitely something we want people to understand that it can cause some significant damage," said Pauley.

"He talked to us about protection if we're ever around it, but he never let us be around it because of the dangers of it," said Williams.

Doctors recommend wearing appropriate safety equipment if you have to be around anyhdrous ammonia.

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