Monday, December 8, 2008

There's a big polluter in the neighborhood

Via HP's Hair Balls blog, we are alerted to a USA Today report on pollution and our schools. The Smokestack Effect: Toxic Air and America's Schools analyzed EPA data on 127,000 schools across the country. The result is a Google map of school locations with airborne pollutant types and the source of each pollutant. So then you can drive by and take pictures for your blog, which yes, I may do.

I searched for schools here in the North Side and found that many of the polluters are your standard industrial dirty air guys, like Dow Chemical Clear Lake and Quality Electric Steel Casings, L.P. But wouldn't you know it, there is a culprit only a few blocks away from me on Everett and Carl - Dee Foundries, a die casting shop that produces sulfuric acid pollution. Sulfuric acid is a full 10% of the toxicity found at Ketelson Elementary School, just two blocks away. 

From the HHS website:
Sulfuric acid is a clear, colorless, oily liquid that is very corrosive. An odor threshold of sulfuric acid in air has been reported to be 1 milligram per cubic meter of air (mg/m3). If you are exposed to concentrated sulfuric acid in air, your nose will be irritated and it may seem like sulfuric acid has a pungent odor. When concentrated sulfuric acid is mixed with water, the solution gets very hot. Concentrated sulfuric acid can catch fire or explode when it comes into contact with many chemicals including acetone, alcohols, and some finely divided metals. When heated it emits highly toxic fumes, which include sulfur trioxide. It is also called sulphine acid, battery acid, and hydrogen sulfate. More sulfuric acid is produced in the United States than any other chemical. It is used in the manufacture of fertilizers, explosives, other acids, and glue; in the purification of petroleum; in the pickling of metal; and in lead-acid batteries (the type commonly used in motor vehicles). Sulfuric acid can be found in the air as small droplets or it can be attached to other small particles in the air.
There are many, many mornings when we wake up to the strong smell of sulfur in the North Side. Now we know where it's coming from. From their website:
Dee Foundries is a jobbing shop, producing non-ferrous castings using the Airset or Greensand Process.

We produce castings weighing from ounces up to 2400 pounds in Bronze, 500 pounds in Aluminum.

Our melting equipment is High Frequency Electric Induction Furnaces for all Copper-base Alloys, and Controlled Combustion Gas-fired Tilting Furnaces for Aluminum Alloys.
I have an idea of what that means but I am certain that Dee Foundries is stinking up the place. They may also be causing health problems for the people who live in the neighborhood, meaning, of course, lots of poor, very young and elderly people.


2 comments:

Sarah said...

I just barely moved from the South Houston/Pasadena/Clear Lake area, so I also found this report terribly disturbing. Schools from Deer Park and Port Neches-Grove were both not only mentioned but featured in USAToday's article. I wrote a post it on my blog, Texas Vox. If you're interested, you can read it here: http://texasvox.org/2008/12/16/the-smokestack-effect/

Cheers to you, La Sandra, for helping spread the word about this important report. Air quality issues don't get nearly the attention they deserve, especially considering how widespread industrial pollution is in the Houston area.

DatabaseBen said...

I agree that Dee Foundries is a smelly place and an eye sore.

how can the epa allow this company to pollute the environment?

tqeq seems imputant at resolving a number of similar problems through out texas.

~db