EPA Cites 3M for Clean-air Violations

Sept. 4, 2003
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 has cited 3M Co. for alleged clean-air violations at the company's chemical plant in Cordova, Ill.

The alleged violations include failure to adequately test, monitor and keep records of emissions of hazardous air pollutants, including methanol, toluene and methyl ethyl ketone.

These are preliminary findings of violations. To resolve them, EPA may issue a compliance order, assess an administrative penalty or bring suit against the company. 3M has 30 days from receipt of the notice to hold a meeting with EPA to discuss the allegations and how to resolve them.

"EPA's mission is to protect public health and the environment," said Region 5 Administrator Thomas V. Skinner. "We will take whatever steps are needed to ensure compliance with the Clean Air Act."

Short-term exposure to high concentrations of methyl ethyl ketone can irritate the eyes, nose and throat and cause headache, nausea, central nervous system depression and skin problems. Limited information is available on chronic effects of methyl ethyl ketone in humans from inhalation exposure.

Long-term exposure to low-to-moderate levels of toluene can cause tiredness, confusion, weakness, memory loss, nausea and loss of appetite and hearing loss.

Long-term exposure to methanol may result in eye irritation, headache, giddiness, sleeplessness, gastric and visual disturbances and blindness.

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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