430 Tons of Toxic Air Emissions Reported : Environment: 3M in Camarillo again tops EPA survey of county manufacturers. Firms are trying to cut discharges.
Ventura County manufacturing companies last year legally emitted more than 860,000 pounds of toxic chemicals that may cause cancer or birth defects or damage the Earth’s protective ozone layer, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report says.
For the fourth year in a row, the 3M Co. in Camarillo topped the county’s list of 27 companies that emitted toxic pollutants into the air. 3M, which manufactures magnetic tape, accounted for more than 20% of the total, releasing 194,783 pounds of the solvent methyl ethyl ketone.
Methyl ethyl ketone is suspected of causing birth defects in pregnant mothers chronically exposed to its fumes. Other effects from chronic exposure include loss of memory and slowed reaction time.
At levels of exposure allowed in the workplace, the chemical can irritate eyes, mucus membranes and skin, and cause headaches and dizziness.
The EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory program, which began in 1987, is part of a package of federal and state legislation known as the Community Right to Know laws.
3M, like other companies in Ventura County and across the nation, has launched a companywide campaign to reduce its toxic emissions. The firm voluntarily reduced emissions by 36% from 1989, compared to a countywide reduction of 24%.
“Any kind of garbage, emissions or solid, represents waste, and waste is money,” said Kevin Ruby, Camarillo plant manager. Reducing emissions “makes sense for the environment, the community and for us.”
Wambold Furniture of Simi Valley reduced emissions by nearly 30% from 1989 levels and plans another 80% reduction this year. The expected decline is due to a recently installed $2.8-million carbon filtering system and the elimination of coating materials by using pre-treated wood.
Mike Starkey, Wambold’s vice president of manufacturing, said it is the first company in the U.S. furniture industry to install the system. Despite the drop in revenue from the recession, the new technology is worth the expense, he said.
“By the end of the 20th Century, I think all manufacturing companies will have changed to our system,” he said. “It’s important--there is only one Earth.”
Neil Moyer, president of the Ventura County Environmental Coalition, applauded business efforts to reduce emissions. He suggested, however, that some reductions are due simply to the country’s overall economic slowdown rather than growing environmental concerns.
In addition, he criticized the Toxic Release Inventory program for not informing the public on health risks associated with the emissions.
“A company could have a lot of emissions, but if it’s well-located, there may be very little risk to neighbors,” said Moyer, who is also an environmental manager for a major oil company. “On the other hand, a company with very modest emissions may produce significant risk to neighbors close by.”
Despite the program’s shortcomings, Richard Baldwin, who heads the county’s air pollution district, said that having companies report their emissions each year has encouraged reductions not required by law.
“One company simply quit using the chemical that was causing the risk,” Baldwin said. “And another committed to doing everything it could to reduce the risk. So just by providing information, there is a positive effect on toxic air emissions.”
County companies that are required to report include firms in the furniture, aerospace and cosmetics industries.
Together, the companies released emissions in 1990 of 26 chemicals that the EPA considers toxic.
In addition to the methyl ethyl ketone, county companies emitted 20,976 pounds of the potential carcinogen styrene, used in food packaging; 240,060 pounds of 1,1,1-trichloroethane, a common degreaser that can cause swollen lungs and irregular heartbeat; and 73,651 pounds of methylene chloride, a probable carcinogen that also can affect the liver and impair concentration.
Combined, the companies also released 139,118 pounds of chlorinated fluorocarbon, commonly known as Freon 113, a chemical believed to be partially responsible for destroying the Earth’s ozone shield, which filters out harmful ultraviolet rays and protects against skin cancer.
Overall, however, the figures represent a decrease from previous years and a move away from the unquestioned use of toxic chemicals toward less environmentally damaging products, company representatives said.
PAC Foundries, a Port Hueneme company that produces steel and aluminum castings for the aerospace industry, eliminated the use of the potential carcinogen methylene chloride in 1989.
“It’s a more volatile chemical and it evaporated more quickly than others,” said Robert Rose, director of human resources for the firm. “And we did not want our employees exposed to a potential carcinogen.”
Rose said the company also plans to eliminate the use of Freon 113 by the end of this year and replace the chemical with a solvent derived from lemons. When PAC Foundries reports its figures for its 1991 toxic release inventory, the company will show a substantial reduction, he said.
The program, he said, “lets people who live nearby know what they are being exposed to, and it’s a good motivator for companies to keep track of their emissions.”
Officials at Reichhold Chemical of Oxnard, the county’s second-largest emitter of toxic chemicals, said they also support the program, despite the expense of new technology.
“You look at what’s happening to the Southern California economy, and there is no question that this is not an attractive place for industry any more,” said Norman Fanhoe, plant manager. “But sooner or later, other places will be the same. There’s just no point in running.”
A few companies in Ventura County show a reverse trend. Between 1989 and 1990, emissions at Procter & Gamble Paper Products in Oxnard rose from 157 pounds to nearly 28,000 pounds.
The increase in toxic emissions resulted after the Ventura County Air Pollution Control District required P&G; to install new equipment to reduce smog-causing emissions.
The new machinery allowed the company to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxide, which contributes to smog, but it increased emissions of ammonia, which are toxic in large quantities.
“It’s the best technology known right now,” said Henry Racine, the plant’s risk manager. “Unfortunately, in this case, it’s a trade-off of nitrogen oxide emissions for ammonia emissions. The jury is still out on what’s best.”
Terri Thomas, a County Air Pollution Control District engineer, said the program provides a valuable service despite its shortcomings and loopholes.
GE Plastics of Oxnard, for example, reduced styrene emissions from more than 77,000 pounds in 1987 to 2,800 pounds in 1990.
“They had no idea they were that high until they did the inventory,” Thomas said. “They installed controls very quickly after that. It really wakes people up.”
Under the EPA program, designed to provide hazardous materials information to the public and local fire and police departments, companies must submit emissions reports if they manufacture more than 25,000 pounds or use more than 10,000 pounds per year of any chemical that the EPA considers toxic.
California has attempted to close some of the information gaps on health risks with its Toxic Hot Spots law.
The state law requires large companies to assess potential health risks to neighboring workers and residents based on the type of chemicals emitted, the height of the stacks from which they are released and proximity to businesses and homes.
The Hot Spots program produced its first results earlier this year, providing a list of eight companies that may increase neighbors’ risk of cancer by more than 10 cases per 1 million people. An expanded group of companies will be required to submit reports next year.
But the state program so far requires reporting only cancer-causing chemicals, and excludes other potentially harmful chemicals such as methyl ethyl ketone. The state is very likely to add that chemical and others to its list this year, officials said.
* MAIN STORY: Emissions drop across the Southland. A3
Following are toxic chemicals emitted in largest volume in Ventura County.*:
1,1,1-Trichloroethane. TCA for short. Clear liquid used to degrease metal and clean electronic parts. Fairly low in toxicity, with a high dose needed to cause immediate effects. Can irritate eyes and lungs and affect heartbeat and central nervous system. Workers have died from high exposures in enclosed spaces. No link with cancer has been proven in limited animal tests. TCA depletes ozone shield that screens the sun’s harmful rays.
Acetone. Flammable liquid used as fingernail polish remover; also to make chemicals, remove paint and clean and dry precision equipment. Toxicity is low but at high levels can irritate nose and throat and cause lightheadedness. Reacts in sunlight to create smog.
Ammonia. Colorless liquid or gas with irritating odor used as household cleaner, and as refrigerant, in metal treating and synthetic fibers. Concentrated fumes can cause severe irritation to eyes and lungs.
Freon 113. A chlorinated fluorocarbon used as cleaning solvent, drying agent, and blowing agent in foam manufacture. Widely used due to low toxicity, although high levels can cause eye, nose and throat irritation and asphyxia. Strong ozone depleter.
Glycol Ethers. Used in resins, paints, dyes, cosmetics and brake fluids. Concentrated exposures can cause nausea, headaches, kidney damage. May be toxic to the fetus.
Methylene Chloride. Clear liquid used as paint stripper, metal degreaser and in adhesives, foam and plastics processing. Common ingredient in paint strippers sold to consumers. Irritates skin and in high concentrations affects heart and central nervous system. Considered probable human carcinogen based on animal tests.
Methyl Ethyl Ketone. MEK for short. Solvent used to make paints, paint removers, adhesives, drugs, cosmetics and artificial leather. Explosion hazard. Concentrated exposure can cause dizziness, headaches and blurred vision. Chronic, low level exposure can cause decreased memory and slow reflexes. May cause reproductive harm, based on animal studies.
Toluene. Flammable liquid used as gasoline additive and in making inks, detergents, pharmaceuticals. Skin and eye irritant. Chronic exposure may cause anemia, damage to liver, kidneys, central nervous system. Contributes to ozone, the main ingredient in smog. May be toxic to fetus.
Styrene. One of the most widely used chemcals in the United States, styrene is used in car tires, plastic pipe, adhesives, film, copy paper, foam cups and trays, eyeglass lenses and bottles. Readily absorbed through the skin, respiratory system and gastrointestinal tract, styrene accumulates in fatty tissues. High doses can cause dizziness, liver problems and death due to respiratory paralysis. Can suppress estrogen production in women. Suspected carcinogen.
* Based on toxic release inventory reports filed by Southern California manufacturers with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Manufacturers’ Toxic Emissions
Ventura County companies that released toxic emissions in 1990, in pounds.
CHEMICAL 1990 1989 1988 1) 3M Data Storage Products Div. 300/350 S. Lewis Rd. Camarillo, 93010 Methyl Ethyl Ketone 194,783 371,900 471,700 Toluene 77,371 52,900 101,500 Totals 272,154 424,800 573,200 2) Reichhold Chemicals Inc. 5980 Arcturus Ave. - Oxnard 93033 Methylene Chloride 72,901 80,721 6,330 Styrene 9,945 12,564 2,814 Misc. chemicals 12,625 2,186 3,396 Totals 84,793 95,471 12,540 3) PAC Foundries 705 Industrial Ave. Port Hueneme, 93041 1,1,1,-Trichloroethane 15,481 16,380 0 Freon 113 29,598 49,140 57,000 Misc. chemicals 0 0 61,000 Totals 65,520 57,450 118,000 4) Wambold Furniture 6800 Smith Rd. - Simi Valley 93063 1,1,1-Trichloroethane 64,347 91,000 145,000 5) Abex Aerospace 3151 W. Fifth St. - Oxnard 93030 1,1,1-Trichloroethane 21,000 61,000 51,000 Freon 113 39,000 73,000 90,000 Totals 60,000 134,000 141,000 6) Rockwell International Corp. Rocketdyne Top of Woolsey Canyon Rd. Simi Hills, 91311 1,1,1-Trichloroethane 36,992 41,007 28,893 Freon 113 10,816 21,492 25,535 Misc. chemicals 4,471 14,428 81,381 Totals 52,279 76,946 135,809 7) Parker Metal Bellows 200 Science Dr. - Moorpark 93021 Freon 113 46,000 50,000 31,000 8) Northrop Corp. Newbury Park Site 1515 Rancho Conejo Blvd. Newbury Park 91320 1,1,1-Trichloroethane 43,080 48,000 5,200 Methyl Ethyl Ketone 0 0 12,250 Ammonia 1,300 0 0 Misc. chemicals 10 0 0 Totals 44,390 48,000 17,450 9) Semtech Corp. 652 Mitchell Rd. - Newbury Park 91320 Isopropyl alcohol 8,250 0 0 Acetone 17,561 0 500 Freon 113 2,800 0 500 Misc. chemicals 1,000 500 500 Totals 29,611 500 1,500 10) Procter & Gamble Paper Products Co. 800 N. Rice Ave. Oxnard, 93030 Ammonia 27,888 0 0 Sulfuric Acid 132 157 0 Totals 28,020 157 0 11) Textron Filtration Systems Inc. 950 Rancho Conejo Blvd. Newbury Park, 91320 1,1,1-Trichloroethane 26,253 24,010 25,348 12) Freight Container Corp. 1160 Mercantile St. - Oxnard 93030 Acetone 10,670 16,725 14,485 Styrene 4,332 3,584 n/a Totals 15,002 20,309 14,485 13) Teleflex Control Systems 1950 Williams Dr. - Oxnard 93030 Ammonia 14,000 0 0 14) Siemens Solar Industries, L.P. 4650 Adohr Lane - Camarillo 93010 1,1,1-Trichloroethane 11,960 25,061 38,150 Misc. chemicals 250 250 250 Totals 12,210 25,311 38,400 15) Hueneme Paper Mill 5936 Perkins Rd. - Oxnard 93033 Glycol Ethers 9,005 0 0 Ammonia 2,805 3,050 1,650 Totals 11,810 3,050 1,650 16) Harris Corp. / Dracon Div. 809 Calle Plano - Camarillo 93012 Freon 113 10,904 0 10,397 17) Rockwell International, MTC 2427 W. Hillcrest Dr. Newbury Park, 91320 Acetone 10,630 4,675 5,958 18) General Optics Inc. 554 Flynn Ave. - Moorpark 93021 1,1,1-Trichloroethane 9,620 12,312 10,398 19) Santa Barbara Applied Optics 4820 McGrath St. - Ventura 93003 1,1,1-Trichloroethane 7,995 0 0 Methylene Chloride 750 0 0 Totals 8,745 0 0 20) Hydro Systems Inc. 50 Moreland Rd. - Simi Valley 93065 Acetone 134 241 21,000 Styrene 3,899 4,522 7,700 Totals 4,033 4,763 28,700 21) Teledyne Electronics 649 Lawrence Dr. - Newbury Park 91320 1,1,1-Trichloroethane 2,832 1,983 2,723 Freon 113 0 5,959 0 Totals 2,832 7,942 2,723 22) GE Plastics Inc. 1000 Factory Lane - Oxnard 93030 Styrene 2,800 4,535 35,000 23) Midland Color 1850 Tapo St. - Simi Valley 93063 1,1,1-Trichloroethane 500 0 0 Ammonia 500 0 0 Misc. chemicals 255 0 0 Totals 1,255 0 0 24) Wilson Sporting Goods Co. 810 Lawrence Dr. - Newbury Park 91320 Misc. chemicals 500 1,000 2,000 Chromium 750 0 0 Totals 1,250 1,000 2,000 25) EG&G; Rocky Flats, Oxnard Facility 1235 E. Wooley Rd. - Oxnard 93030 Nickel 500 500 0 Chromium 500 500 0 Totals 1,000 1,000 0 26) Kaiser Aluminum & Chemical Corp. 1001 McWane Blvd. - Oxnard 93003 Lead 755 0 0 Misc. chemicals 20 750 1,000 Totals 775 750 1,000 27) Clairol Inc. 1211 Flynn Rd. - Camarillo 93012 Ammonia 250 500 1,000 Totals 860,047 1,132,909* 1,333,013*
* Includes companies that are not listed but were no longer emitting in 1990.
How to obtain information from the toxic release inventory:
Toxic release inventory information for specific manufacturers--or all manufacturers within a ZIP code, a city, or an entire county--can be obtained from the California Environmental Protection Agency in Sacramento.
Data seekers can call the Cal EPA help desk at (916) 327-1848, or write Cal EPA; Office of Environmental Information; 555 Capitol Mall; Room 525; Sacramento, Calif. 95814.
Floppy disks containing a full year of data for the entire state may also be purchased for $50 each. Disks are available for 1987 through 1990.