"It has been confirmed beyond any doubt that 10 cubic meters of pollutants have been dumped in the river", the Chinese official said. Chinese media outlets have already named xylidine, a toxic additive for automobile fuel, as one of the chemicals that got in the Mannu. Nevertheless, Khabarovsk Territory authorities have not been officially informed what substances have been dumped in the river.
Head of the territorial Environmental Protection Department Viktor Bardiuk said Friday that xylidine is a toxic substance, hardly soluble in water, that decomposes by only 30 percent over 28 days. "It is necessary to organize water sampling in the Sungari estuary, the samples to be analyzed at Khabarovsk laboratories", emphasized the official. According to calculations made by the Far-Eastern Directorate of Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring, the pollution spill may reach the Sungari estuary by September 3-4, and Khabarovsk by September 7-8.
Xylidine (a mixture of isomers of dimethylaniline, dimethylaminobenzol and dimethylphenylamine) is a pale-yellow to brown liquid with a characteristic smell, turning brown when exposed to air. The chemical decomposes on burning releasing nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide. It reacts violently with strong oxidants. It also reacts with hypochlorites generating highly explosive chloramines. It is aggressive toward plastics and resins.
Xylidine may be absorbed in human organism when the aerosol is inhaled, through the skin and orally. Hazards when inhaled: Dangerous pollution of the air will be reached quite quickly on evaporation of the substance at +20°C. Effects of short-term action: The substance irritates the eyes and skin, may affect the blood, causing the formation of methemoglobin. Its action at levels exceeding the maximum allowable concentration may be lethal. The effect may be delayed in case of absorption through the skin. Medical observation is indicated.
Effects of long-term or repeated action: Xylidine may affect the kidneys, liver and blood.
The substance is flammable. When burned, it releases irritating or toxic vapors (or gases). At temperatures exceeding 96°C high-explosive mixtures may form.
The signs indicative of poisoning with xylidine vapors (inhalation) are a bluish tinge of the lips, nails or skin, giddiness, cramps, headache, vomiting and fainting. In any case immediate medical assistance is required!