December 22, 2008

Polluters, right here in River City

Just stumbled across this website serving people looking for real estate to check and see what the pollution situation is in prospective locations to live. It provides EPA information on the largest poluters in a town or city. I happened across the page for Moline, thouh I'm sure you can check on your own city as well.

For instance, the largest polluter in Moline is the Quad City Airport, with 3 pollutants from 12 sources, which emitted a whopping 896,000 POUNDS (448 TONS) of harmful pollutants per year.

Second is Deere & Co. with 47 pollutants from 273 sources and belching out 426,977 pounds (213 tons) per year.

Another hidden and little noticed business which has been pouring out toxins for years in close proximity to thousands of residences is Valspar Coatings, which I've seen on polluter lists for many, many years.

Despite it's relatively small size, it comes in a solid third on the list, with 5 pollutants from 10 sources and emitting 171,648 pounds (nearly 86 tons) of toxic pollutants each and every year.

And it's located on the border of Moline and East Moline at 5400 Avenue of the Cities (23rd Ave.) I'm sure many people have driven past it hundreds of times and never even known it was there.

Also interesting is the fact that a few veternary clinics are listed. Not sure what hazardous pollutants they deal with.

Check the website here, and then use the google map with polluters marked. You can zoom in or out and add a satellite view, then simply drag the map around to show any area you're interested in. Polluters are marked with little dark clouds.

An even more comprehensive site can be found here, which allows you to search by state, county or city and further by polutants, top 10 polluters, and more, with links to further infomation.

Here's the page showing amounts of pollution emitted in Rock Island County by type of pollutant.

Topping the list is Sulphur Dioxide, with 1,577 tons, or 3,154,964.96 pounds of it put into the environment per year. Sulphur Dioxide's hazard to human health is stated, "Sulfur dioxide acts as an acid, it reacts with other chemicals in the air to form tiny sulfate particles. When these are breathed, they gather in the lungs and are associated with increased respiratory symptoms and disease, difficulty in breathing, and premature death." and is listed as a suspected...
- Cardiovascular or Blood Toxicant
- Developmental Toxicant
- Gastrointestinal or Liver Toxicant
- Neurotoxicant
- Respiratory Toxicant

Rounding out the top three are the Volatile Organic Compounds (like found in paints and solvents - 2,462,676.72 pounds per year) and the ever popular greenhouse gas Carbon Monoxide (1,890,934.06 pounds per year).

VOC's have a lot of fun potential health effects, which according to the EPA include:
Eye, nose, and throat irritation; headaches, loss of coordination, nausea; damage to liver, kidney, and central nervous system. Some organics can cause cancer in animals; some are suspected or known to cause cancer in humans. Key signs or symptoms associated with exposure to VOCs include conjunctival irritation, nose and throat discomfort, headache, allergic skin reaction, dyspnea, declines in serum cholinesterase levels, nausea, emesis, epistaxis, fatigue, dizziness.

Both VOCs and Carbon Monoxide are major contributors to acid rain and to global warming due to their role in the depletion of the ozone layer.

Merry Christmas! (I'll look for something a little less grim to post soon.)


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