State officials in Michigan have reported that the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality will test more than 100 homes in Brighton for trichloroethylene (TCE). This toxic chemical was found to be present in the air of five homes near Brighton High School. Additionally, the state has opened another investigation of toxic air in a second location near Whitmore Lake Road.
Trichloroethylene (TCE) is a chemical that is commonly used as an industrial solvent to remove grease from metal parts and as an ingredient in paint removers, spot removers, and adhesives. The reason TCE is in Brighton’s homes and groundwater is that the manufacturer Detroit Gaskets utilized and disposed of it carelessly it for over 30 years, from the late 1940s to the early 1980s. Detroit Gaskets used TCE as a degreaser. Haigh Manufacturing, located in the second area of contamination, also dumped it in the 1960s and 1970s.
Dealing with TCE’s persistent toxicity has been an ongoing problem for residents in this area for decades since this chemical was discovered in the groundwater in 1990. The City of Brighton had to expand its water supply to some 89 houses because the well water was no longer drinkable. Since that time some clean up has occurred, and the footprint of the first groundwater plume is about half of its original size. Unfortunately, air quality in these homes is also affected. TCE can leach into residences on top of the contaminated areas through vapor intrusion. In cases where the air is found to be toxic, air purifying units must be installed in order to mitigate TCE vapors.
Previously we’ve discussed the consequences of solvent exposure. Because TCE was used in many settings for decades without precautions, there is significant evidence that long-term exposure to trichloroethylene can lead to kidney, liver, heart, and nerve damage, cognitive impairment, birth defects, and cancer. Like other solvents, it must be handled with care and disposed of correctly. People suffer when it is not.
As this story illustrates, the chemicals we use in our daily lives have an impact on us both in the present and in the future. This is why choosing green, environmentally safe options is so important for all of us in all aspects of our lives, including in our businesses. The choices Detroit Gaskets and Haigh Manufacturing made for decades have created a toxic environment that has made people sick and cost the City of Brighton and the state a great deal of time and money to mitigate.
AEC Systems, LLC is committed to designing and manufacturing parts washing equipment that does not rely on toxic solvents to clean industrial parts. We believe that it’s worth investing money to prevent damage to people’s health and to the environment. We are proud of the safe and effective products we design and of our commitment to safer chemistry in parts cleaning. If your company is exploring alternatives to parts cleaning with solvents, call us today. We would be happy to discuss with you how we can meet your needs.