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Personal Injury Caused by Propionic Acid Spill

Propionic acid is an active ingredient for use as a fungicide and a bactericide on stored grains, hay, storage areas for silage and grains, poultry litter, and drinking water for poultry and livestock. It is used in shipping and storage and is applied either as a solution or on an absorbent to prevent mould in cereals and grains.

Propionic Acid Spill Truck

Helpful Information

When used as a food additive, propionic acid does not result in any adverse health effects. However, either liquid or vapour exposure to the acid in its raw form can have serious health implications and can cause significant personal injuries.

Contact with the eyes can cause severe damage and in extreme cases may result in loss of vision. Skin contact with liquid and concentrated vapour can result in primary irritation and may cause severe burns. Inhalation will cause coughing, choking, headache and dizziness and will generally produce irritation of the eyes and respiratory tract with the amount of damage depending on the concentration level. The effects of ingestion include serious burns of the mouth, throat and stomach and vomiting and diarrhoea will be induced.

On the 23rd of August 2010 a spill of up to 100 litres of this toxic substance – which is commonly referred to as ‘popcorn’ – occurred on a busy public road approximately two miles outside of Banagher in County Galway. It is understood that the spill was caused when a haulage vehicle being driven by an agricultural worker overturned on a road near the Galway-Offaly border.

Media reports suggest that a number of people have sought medical attention after coming into contact with this acid spill, with at least one female motorist requiring medical attention for burns to her feet.

Galway County Council has advised anyone complaining of ill effects from propionic acid exposure to contact the Health Service Executive directly regarding the matter. However, rather unhelpfully, neither the Council’s nor the HSE’s websites contain any further information on the incident. The Council has admitted that it does not know how many motorists had actually come in contact with the propionic acid which was spilt or how many would have known that it was toxic if they had done so.

If you have been exposed to propionic acid, either as a consequence of the spill at Banagher or otherwise, you should immediately seek medical attention by contacting your GP.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Some of the questions we are often asked in relation to this topic.

  • What is propionic acid?

    Propionic acid is a naturally occurring carboxylic acid with the chemical formula C3H6O2. It is a colourless liquid with a pungent odor and is soluble in water. Propionic acid is produced industrially through the fermentation of carbohydrates or by the chemical synthesis involving hydrocarboxylation of ethylene. It is commonly used as a preservative in food products, thanks to its anti-fungal properties, and is also used in the manufacture of various esters, herbicides, plastics, and flavorings. Additionally, propionic acid serves as an important intermediate in the synthesis of certain pharmaceuticals.

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  • How harmful is human contact with propionic acid?

    It is corrosive and can cause severe irritation and burns to the skin and eyes. Inhalation of its vapours may lead to respiratory discomfort, coughing, and difficulty breathing. Long-term exposure, especially in industrial settings without proper safety measures, can lead to more severe health effects. Therefore, it is crucial to handle propionic acid with appropriate protective equipment such as gloves, goggles, and respiratory protection, and to ensure good ventilation when using it to minimise the risks associated with exposure.

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  • What scenarios can lead to harmful exposure?

    Exposure to propionic acid due to negligence can occur in various scenarios, such as in industrial environments where the acid is improperly stored or handled, leading to leaks or spills. Inadequate ventilation in workspaces can cause accumulation of propionic acid vapours. Neglecting to use or maintain safety equipment like fume hoods, protective clothing, and eyewear increases the risk of skin, eye, and respiratory exposure. Additionally, failure to train employees on emergency response and safe handling procedures can result in accidental exposure during routine operations or in the event of a spill.

Propionic acid spill compensation claims

For expert advice regarding propionic acid spill, get in contact with our personal injury solicitors today to make a start on your claim. Call us on 1800 390 555 and an experienced member of staff will discuss your situation and potential next steps. You can also email on and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

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Our offices are based in Dublin and Cork but we work with clients throughout Ireland in locations ranging from Galway to Waterford. You can count on us for legal advice, guidance and assistance on any form of personal injury.

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