Emergency Response

The Pollution Control Services Department responds to hazardous materials incidents in Harris County and evaluates their impact on the public and the environment. The Emergency Response Team maintains 24-hour/day on-call coverage. Responses include fires involving hazardous materials, industrial facility releases, chemical spills, and abandoned drums and containers of unknown waste in Harris County and evaluates their impact to the public and the environment.
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Additionally, the Emergency Response Section includes the Monitoring and Surveillance Team, which utilizes sophisticated instrumentation to measure air quality during environmental emergencies. When emergencies are not occurring, this team utilizes the same equipment to gather data for the day-to-day air quality and to locate and identify sources of air pollution.


Who do I call if there is a hazardous materials incident or accident?
Call 911 or the emergency number for your local fire department. Be prepared to give them your name, location of the incident, the nature of the incident, and a call back phone number. They may also ask additional questions such as: Is anyone hurt? Is there a fire involved? If something is leaking, what does the material look like? If there is a container or tank involved, are there any numbers or pictures on the container?
How do I know if hazardous materials are involved?
Look for markings on containers that may look like a picture or may contain numbers. Make note of any odors you may smell or if the material leaking is bubbling, smoking, or if it is a liquid, solid, or a gas. If you do not know if it is hazardous or not, assume it is hazardous and stay a safe distance from the scene.
Where can I find hazardous materials?
Hazardous materials can be found just about anywhere. You can find hazardous materials in industry, being transported on roadways, in supermarkets and hardware stores, and even in homes, placed in the garage, and under the kitchen sink.