Jacquie Gil

What happened to my mom in this 80's Chemical Spill? C3H6O + C7H14O2 + ? = ?

Discussion created by Jacquie Gil on Sep 8, 2014

Sorry this is so long! It's a complicated backstory. You can try to skip to 2nd last paragraph for just question without context.


This is something that's haunted me since my mom came home from work one day when I was 12. Her life (& as a result mine & the rest of our family) was never the same again. That was 1981. My mother never had a day of good health again until she died on Christmas Eve 1997 when I had just turned 28.


At that time in the 80's my mom worked as a Janitorial Supervisor for a very large aviation company. There was a chemical spill in a small store room near the factory floor. My mom was the type to not put others into danger, so even though her job was supervising & not cleaning, she went in. Someone put a plank of wood on the floor "so it wouldn't eat through her shoes" (!!!) and left her to it! (1981 had no real protocol or precautions in place)


At one point she remembered someone coming by to tell her the "stink" was going out to the factory & people were complaining, so they were closing the door to the room she was in. (Not ventilated) Later, she was told because they had some pregnant employees & it was still stinky, they were gonna evacuate the building. I say later because by the time they remembered my mom she was already passed out! She'd fallen at least twice, once jamming her back hard down onto something.


When they got her outside & got her revived, they took off her cleaning smock & buried it in the snow. She never saw it again. Because this was a HUGE company & this was an "incident", they didn't want it on official books. I not believe Fire or Paramedics were called. Someone drove my mom to the hospital in a pickup. At the hospital, she went through the contaminated shower scrubbing process & got some oxygen. She was confused & assumed since they took her in a truck she must be ok. She'd never missed a day of work in her life. She said she just wanted to go home. Instead of calling my father, they released her to her co-worker & she had to how back to work and catch the van pool home! (They never called to tell us anything!)


OK! Now to the chemistry! After years of fighting (the company trying to pretend it didn't happen FOUGHT my Mother for years on her Workers Comp claim! She fell down stairs a couple months earlier & asked their nurse for an aspirin! Eventually she got only 25% of her salary as a pension & nothing more!) the company had to hand over their files to my mom.

Finally, after years of asking what was IN her body so docs could figure out how to treat her & what might be ahead for her, she had access to her files. But for some reason one of the chemicals was redacted! To this day we only know 2 of the chemicals that combined & reacted & have no clue what the third is.


My mother had weird medical issues the rest of her life. Nothing was as expected. Nerve cells in her brain began to demyelinate, but it wasn't MS. She got fluid on the brain & needed a shunt, but it wasn't on the side where that normally happens. Strange tumour developed at the base of her spine. They were sure there was Cancer, but they couldn't ever find it until one day a huge tumor popped up out of nowhere on her lung almost overnight. Even little things like her kidney stones were weird & mutated. It was heart wrenching seeing literally the strongest human in my world come to that end.


The 2 chemicals we know she was exposed to were straight Acetone (C3H6O ?) and another substance called Amyl Acetate (C7H14O2 ?). What reaction might occur in a large leak of just these 2 substances in a small 10x10, unventilated room? I think she was in there 30-45 minutes. Does anyone have any thoughts or insight into what the third product might be? Something that would have been commonly stored with those 2 products in a facility that did Aviation Manufacturing in the early 80's & would be scary enough in combination with them they wouldn't even want to let us know about it? They went to GREAT LENGTHS (like I'm talking spy novel stuff) to prevent us from knowing.


I'm sorry, I don't have any more specifics to add. Like I said, I was 12 at the time & I'm 44 now! I did hold on to all of her paperwork after she died so I could maybe write about it one day. I hate that the company did what they did & because there weren't environmental laws on the books back then, my mom had to take her 25% & just go away!