What is Kipp doing to protect its workers from vapor intrusion? They won’t say.

What is Kipp doing to protect its workers from vapor intrusion?  They won’t say.

Photo: Workers in Madison-Kipp factory.

Kipp says they stopped using the highly toxic solvent tetrachloroethylene, also called perchloroethylene or PCE—the toxic chemical that was the main focus of the citizen class action lawsuit settled in 2013 (see more details about the lawsuit here and here).

However, in addition to PCE, Kipp also used the even more toxic solvent trichloroethylene, or TCE. TCE is a carcinogen and can cause neurological, immune, kidney, liver, reproductive, and developmental effects. It can also cause cardiac defects in fetuses whose mothers are exposed for even very short periods of time during pregnancy. See links to more information below

Did Kipp ever stop using TCE? What solvents is the company using now? How is Kipp protecting its factory workers from exposures to solvents used in the factory—and to PCE, TCE and other volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) seeping into factory air from the huge VOC plume below it? Sadly, this is just one of the many health and safety risks faced by Kipp’s workers, many of whom are minorities—see past stories here and here.

Last week, I sent the message below to John Hausbeck at Public Health Madison Dane County and Kipp’s environmental health and safety manager, Alina Satkoski. I have received no response.

Given this lack of response, I am assuming that Kipp is still using TCE—and is doing very little or nothing to monitor and protect its workers from exposures to the many volatile organic chemicals seeping into the factory from below. If Kipp is not using TCE anymore—and has been monitoring and protecting its workers from VOC exposures—why wouldn’t their health and safety manager say so right away?

Below–email message sent to Public Health Madison Dane County and Kipp environmental health and safety manager, Alina Satkoski:

Subject: Assessing risks to Kipp workers?
Date: Mon, 19 Sep 2016 14:36:25 -0500
From: Maria Powell (MEJO) <>
To: <>
CC: Rummel, Marsha <>, <>, Alina Satkoski <>


I and other community members are still concerned about chemical exposures to all Kipp factory workers, especially women who are or could become pregnant.

As far as VOCs and exposures via vapor intrusion, TCE is of particular concern because it is more toxic than PCE–it is a carcinogen and also causes neurological, immune system, kidney, liver, reproductive, and developmental effects.  Many of the effects from fetal exposures may not show up until adulthood. Vapor intrusion screening levels for TCE are much lower than for PCE–see here.** Also, recently government risk assessors concluded that the weight of evidence indicates that TCE and/or its metabolites could cause cardiac defects in fetuses even if maternal exposure durations are short, one-time, and relatively low dose.  Below my name, I pasted a summary from an EPA TCE risk assessment document re TCE and heart defects. You can find the IRIS info on TCE toxicity here and here.

We know Kipp used TCE as well as PCE at least into the 1980s. There are still high levels of it under the factory, along with many other toxic VOCs. PCE, of course, breaks down to TCE–so there is an endless source under the factory and in the plume beneath the larger neighborhood.

In light of the above, can you help us find out:

1. What has been done to assess VOC levels in the Kipp factory?

2. What is being done to protect workers from exposures to these chemicals?

3. Does Kipp still use TCE? If they stopped using it, when did they stop?

4. What solvents does Kipp use now?

I copied Alina, since she certainly must know the answers to these questions.

Thank you,


**Workplace standards for PCE and TCE are thought by experts to be very inadequate and unprotective of workers’ health based on the science. Even Henry Nehls-Lowe agreed with this.

The below text is from EPA’s “TSCA Work Plan Chemical Risk Assessment,” EPA Document# 740R14002, Environmental Protection Agency June 2014, Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention–see here.

2.7 HUMAN HEALTH RISK CHARACTERIZATION (I highlighted key sentence) TCE and its metabolites are associated with adverse effects on cardiac development based on a weight‐of‐evidence analysis of developmental studies from rats, humans and chickens. These adverse cardiac effects are deemed important for acute and chronic risk estimation for the scenarios and populations addressed in this risk assessment. The rationale for using TCE associated fetal cardiovascular lesions for acute scenario is based on the relatively short critical window of vulnerability in humans, rodent and avian cardiac development.The rationale for using fetal cardiac effects for chronic risks estimation is also based on the fact that relatively low dose short term/acute exposures can result on longterm adverse consequences on cardiac development persisting into adulthood.

‐‐ Summary of WeightofEvidence Analysis for Congenital Heart Defects TCE exposure has been associated with cardiac malformations in chick embryos studies (Boyer et al., 2000; Bross et al., 1983; Drake, V. et al., 2006; Drake, V. J. et al., 2006; Loeber et al., 1988; Mishima et al., 2006; Rufer et al., 2008) and oral developmental toxicity studies in rats (Dawson et al., 1990, 1993; Johnson et al., 2005; Johnson, 2014; Johnson et al., 2003). In addition to the consistency of the cardiac findings across different species, the incidence of congenital cardiac malformation has been duplicated in several studies from the same laboratory group and has been shown to be TCE‐related (EPA, 2011e). TCE metabolites have also induced cardiac defects in developmental oral toxicity studies (Epstein et al., 1992; Johnson et al., 1998a, 1998b; Smith et al., 1989, 1992). For example, the Johnson et al. and Smith et al. studies reported increased incidences of cardiac malformation following gestational TCA exposures (Johnson et al., 1998a, 1998b; Smith et al., 1989). Similarly, pregnant rats exhibited increased incidence of cardiac defects following DCA exposure during pregnancy (Epstein et al., 1992; Smith et al., 1992).

A number of studies have been conducted to elucidate the mode of action for TCE‐related cardiac teratogenicity. During early cardiac morphogenesis, outflow tract and atrioventricular endothelial cells differentiate into mesenchymal cells (EPA, 2011e). These mesenchymal cells have characteristics of smooth muscle‐like myofibroblasts and form endocardial cushion tissue, which is the primordia of septa and valves in the adult heart (EPA, 2011e). Many of the cardiac defects observed in humans and laboratory species involved septal and valvular structures (EPA, 2011e). Thus, a major research area has focused on the disruptions in cardiac valve formation in avian in ovo and in vitro studies following TCE treatment. These mechanistic studies have revealed TCE’s ability to alter the endothelial cushion development, which could be a possible mode of action underlying the cardiac defects involving septal and valvular morphogenesis in rodents and chickens (EPA, 2011e). These mechanistic data provide support to the plausibility of TCE‐related cardiac effects in humans (EPA, 2011e).

Other modes of actions may also be involved in the induction of cardiac malformation following TCE exposure. For example, studies have reported TCE‐related alterations in cellular Ca2+ fluxes during cardiac development (Caldwell et al., 2008; Collier et al., 2003; Selmin et al., 2008).



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Scientists, Health Professionals Urge Action To Protect Children From Toxic Chemicals

Scientists, Health Professionals Urge Action To Protect Children From Toxic Chemicals

From Environmental Working Group. A distinguished group of 50 scientists, health professionals and advocates called for urgent action to protect children from the harmful effects of toxic chemicals, including organophosphate insecticides,PBDE flame retardants, particulate air pollution, lead, mercury, PCBs. Read their statement, published in the prestigious journal Environmental Health Perspectives here.

Read the Environmental Working Group article here.

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Wisconsin DNR not following its own rules

Wisconsin DNR not following its own rules

This really isn’t a surprise but it’s still very disturbing.



State audit finds DNR ignoring own rules on water pollution

Wisconsin’s water quality regulators failed to follow their own policies on enforcement against polluters more than 94 percent of the time over the last decade, the state’s nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau said in a report released Friday [MORE]

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Why “safe” levels of toxic chemicals may not be safe

Why “safe” levels of toxic chemicals may not be safe

“There’s no problem; toxic exposure is too low to cause any harm” is a common response by pubic officials when citizens raise concerns about toxins in the environment, such a PCBs or atrazine.

MEJO board member Kristine Mattis explains why this assurance may not be accurate in this article published at Counterpunch Online:

Toxic Curve Ball: Why Outdated Assumptions to Determine “Safe Levels” of To…

By now, a large number of consumers are aware of the hazards of the synthetic compound bisphenol-A (BPA). Effect… [MORE]


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Madison-Kipp removes chlorine, but environmental worries linger

Madison-Kipp removes chlorine, but environmental worries linger

By Steve Verburg, Wisconsin State Journal. (Photo: Inside Madison-Kipp)

Madison-Kipp Corp. has removed one worrisome toxin from the manufacturing plant it operates amid scores of homes along Atwood Avenue, but neighbors say they want more answers about other pollutants.

The machine parts maker sent an email to neighborhood residents last week to say it has stopped using chlorine to treat aluminum, eliminating the danger of a spill of the potentially deadly substance and ending smokestack emissions of certain dangerous breakdown chemicals including dioxin.

“We’re pretty excited about it,” company environmental and safety director Alina Satkoski said Wednesday. “We know this has been a concern of our neighbors.”

Madison-Kipp continues to operate under state permits for emissions of other smokestack pollutants, and cleanups of toxins in soil aren’t complete, although company officials say they are getting closer.

Chlorine was used to remove magnesium from 35 million pounds of aluminum the company buys each year and casts into parts for the automotive and other industries.

Madison-Kipp is paying a higher price to buy aluminum with less magnesium content in order to be a better neighbor, and it will continue the practice as long as a steady supply of the material is available, said company president and CEO Tony Koblinski.

“It’s hundreds of thousands of dollars annually,” Koblinski said. “As long as there is a steady stream we don’t give up too much.”

The chlorine announcement came as Madison-Kipp continued to work with state and federal regulators on investigations and cleanups of chemical toxins released into the ground during the more than 100 years the company’s Waubesa Street plant has operated.

Madison-Kipp is also the target of a 2012 state Department of Justice lawsuit over PCBs, which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says probably cause cancer in humans and a variety of other serious health effects in animals. PCBs have been found in very high concentrations as deep as 25 to 30 feet below the company’s plant on Waubesa Street, one of three it operates in Dane County.

The company paid $7.2 million to settle lawsuits brought by neighbors after PCE, a likely human carcinogen that is associated with other serious illnesses, and other contaminants spread from the plant and sent vapor into their soil and homes.

But Koblinski has predicted a settlement with DOJ this year, and he said great progress is being made on several fronts.

The company has asked the state Department of Natural Resources for permission to end testing and removal of soil tainted with PCE in the yards of homes along Waubesa Street and soil contaminated with PCBs under the plant parking lot, along the adjacent bike path and in a nearby public rain garden, he said.

The company complied with a 2015 EPA consent order that threatened a $37,500-per-day fine if it didn’t fix processes that led to inaccurate reports of air emissions for nearly five years, Satkoski said. And the company has taken steps to avoid a repeat of a 2014 incident when moisture in a machine caused a 20-pound piece of molten aluminum to crash through the plant roof and land in a neighbor’s yard, Satkoski said.

Koblinski said he is willing to answer any neighborhood questions. But residents and local officials said they have trouble obtaining information from the DNR.

In particular, there are concerns about efforts to halt the underground PCE plume by pumping it from the ground, treating it and depositing 65,000 gallons a day into Starkweather Creek, a stream that is already listed as impaired by pollutants, said one neighborhood leader, Lance Green.

Confidence in regulators was shaken several years ago by revelations that PCE was in people’s homes and more recently when the Madison Water Utility revealed problems in Madison-Kipp studies indicating the PCE plume had stopped well short of a nearby drinking water source, said Green, who serves on the Schenk-Atwood-Starkweather-Yahara Neighborhood Association board and the group’s committee on Madison-Kipp as well as the Friends of Starkweather Creek board.

Madison City Council member Marsha Rummel and state Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, tried to arrange a public meeting this week with DNR regulators, public health officials and others to answer residents’ questions about the activities.

However, Taylor and Green said DNR staff members told them they were wary because of verbal sparring at such a meeting in 2012.

Taylor said attorneys representing neighbors in the PCE lawsuit, which was still pending at the time, asked questions and that heightened tensions.

Taylor said she offered to screen questions and provide them to the DNR in advance, and Rummel arranged for a professional facilitator to run the meeting.

But the DNR declined, and said it would discuss dates for an “open house” meeting in which residents could talk with officials at individual tables set up for different topics, Taylor said. But that prevents the most knowledgeable neighbors from obtaining answers that everyone can hear, Taylor said.

“They don’t want to face the community in a group,” Taylor said. “I think it’s ridiculous.”

DNR spokesman Jim Dick said the meeting was postponed by its organizers and the agency is waiting to hear further details about how and when it may take place.

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