DeKalb industries release chemicals

By Rick Techman

DeKalb county industries released almost 1 million pounds of toxic chemicals into the air, land and water in 1988, according to an Illinois Environmental Protection Agency report.

Will Flower, a state EPA spokesman, said toxic chemicals released on land to incinerators and landfills totalled 682,436 pounds of waste, and was more than half of DeKalb County’s toxic waste production.

“It is common for the public to become very interested in emergency releases of toxic chemicals, while routine releases of toxic chemicals to air, land and water get very little attention,” Flower said.

The type of chemical emitted can also make a difference, he said. “There is a potential for that (dangers to the public), depending on the concentration you’re exposed to.”

Flower said, “air quality is measured to be good in DeKalb,” but added that the IEPA only measures 151 chemicals which have been linked to health disorders.

Smokestacks and related sources released 246,316 pounds of toxic chemicals into DeKalb air in 1988.

Flower said the heaviest single chemical released in DeKalb was toluene, a byproduct in the manufacture of paints, varnishes, enamels, laquers and allied products.

He said more than half of DeKalb’s waste was produced by toluene and related industry chemicals. Hazardous waste landfills and incinerators are used for the disposal of this chemical, he said.

Flower said there are no limits on the amount of potentially dangerous chemicals an industry can produce, adding the IEPA is doing all it can to improve this situation.

Toxic chemicals released in DeKalb waterways totaled only 506 pounds, Flower said. He also said public treatment facilities received 2,251 pounds of waste.

Flower said the state and federal EPA is designed to handle chemicals after they have been released and must concentrate on preventing toxic chemicals from entering the environment.