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COMMENT
Industry Indicts Itself
A Comment on Air Quality Analyses Conducted by SIPCOT Industries of Ambient Air in SIPCOT

By
SIPCOT Area Community Environmental Monitoring
June 2005

Introduction

Between 25 and 28 November, 2004, Shiva Analyticals (India) Ltd carried out 8-hour high-volume sampling of ambient air at 10 locations in and around SIPCOT Industrial Estate, Cuddalore. The exercise was carried on behalf of and at the cost of the Cuddalore SIPCOT Industries Association (CSIA). Shiva Analyticals’ findings contained in "A Report on Ambient Air Quality in and around SIPCOT Industrial Complex, Cuddalore" corroborates findings by the SIPCOT Area Community Environmental Monitoring that the ambient air in SIPCOT is dangerously polluted.

In September 2004, SIPCOT Area Community Environmental Monitoring released Cuddalore’s first ambient air quality report – titled "Gas Trouble" -- documenting toxic gases in the air breathed by residents of SIPCOT. The report, which was based on five grab samples, found 22 toxic chemicals of which 13 were raw materials used in one or more SIPCOT industries. SACEM’s report too detected high levels of chloroform, among other chemicals, in the ambient air. At least 14 out of 22 chemicals found in SIPCOT air by SACEM violated US EPA Region 6 effects screening levels.

India has no standards for toxic VOC and sulphur-based gases. In the absence of such standards, communities living alongside industries continue to be gassed by industries. In September 2004, the Supreme Court Monitoring Committee instructed the Central Pollution Control Board to develop such standards, and to use US EPA norms until the standards are developed. Also, responding to the report, the Supreme Court Monitoring Committee directed the Tamilnadu Pollution Control Board to bring ambient air quality in line with USEPA norms by December 31, 2004.

The TNPCB sought and obtained an extension till 30 June, 2005. As of July 15, 2005, SACEM has no knowledge of any effort made by TNPCB to assess the air quality in SIPCOT for the presence and characterisation of toxic gases. However, in its press release of May 11, the TNPCB maintains that the air in SIPCOT is safe without providing any basis to counter SACEM’s findings.

As recently as July 6, CSIA has said that SIPCOT air is safe and breathable. Interestingly, the Association does not refer to the findings of the above study that was commissioned by it.

The Shiva Study
The following parameters were analysed:
  • SPM
  • RSPM
  • NOx
  • SO2
  • Fluoride
  • Acetone
  • Methanol
  • Chloroform
  • Carbon tetrachloride
  • Isobutylene
  • Acrolein
  • Acrylonitrile
  • Acetaldehyde
 
 
  • Formaldehyde
  • Ethyl Alcohol
  • Acetyl Chloride
  • Triethylamine
  • Trichloroethylene
  • Toluene
  • Methylene Chloride
  • Hydrogen Sulphide
  • n-Hexane
  • Isopropyl Alcohol
  • Methyl Ethyl Ketone
  • Acetonitrile
  • 1,2, Dichloroethane

The sampling locations were selected by Cuddalore SIPCOT Industries Association (CSIA).

  • Top of Tagros Security room-West gate
  • Vanavil factory premises – Top of fire hydrant pump house room
  • Top of Kudikadu Panchayat School
  • Shasun Chemicals SW corner
  • SIPCOT borewell no:7
  • Selvam house Echankadu (sic) Village
  • Top of SIPCOT Office
  • CUSECS pump house-2, Opp. to EB sub station
  • Sonanchavadi village
  • Top of Tamilnadu Hotel, Opp. to Bus Terminal – Cuddalore

Highlights:
CSIA’s report finds that "all routine parameters are with in the limits as per CPCB Limits. However the comparison indicates that the levels of VOCs are well with in the limits as per Indian and International OSHA and EPA standards in most of the component and locations. CSIA may study for the reasons for the deviations in few cases."

However, even going by the standards used by Shiva for comparing the SIPCOT air findings, the levels of VOCs and sulphur compounds found in the Shiva study are more than mere "deviations in few cases." Shiva has compared the findings with the US EPA Reference Concentration (RfC) levels. The Bangalore-based laboratory analysed for 21 chemicals, including 20 VOCs and Hydrogen Sulphide. Some additional parameters were also analysed, but this report is restricted to detection of toxic gases -- VOCs and sulphur-based. The CSIA report does not test for 11 chemicals that were detected in the 9 samples taken by SACEM using the bucket technique.

Comparison with RfC as per Shiva Analyticals’ report
The following is a summary of findings of the CSIA study of SIPCOT air as per Shiva’s own reference standard:

  1. 13 out of 20 VOCs tested were found in the air. Eight of the chemicals detected by Shiva were also detected by SACEM.
  2. The levels of 8 VOCs exceed the US EPA Reference Concentration levels
    • Acetonitrile exceeded safe levels in 8 out of 10 samples.
    • Chloroform exceeded safe levels in 6 out of 10 samples. The sample from "Top of Tagros Security-West room" exceeded the screening level by a factor of 22.
    • Acrylonitrile found in the sample from Top of Tagros Security-West room exceeded the screening levels by a factor of 70.
    • Triethylamine found in the sample from atop the SIPCOT Borewell No 7 exceeded the screening levels by a factor of 91.

    Chloroform and Acrylonitrile are known or suspected human or animal carcinogens

  3. 11 out of 13 chemicals found are also used raw materials in one or more SIPCOT industries.
  4. At least 6 of the chemicals found are known to cause cancer in animals and are potential human carcinogens.
  5. Out of the 13 chemicals found - 11 target eyes, 10 target the skin, 9 target the respiratory system and the Central Nervous System, 8 target the kidneys, 7 target the liver, 6 target Cardio Vascular System and 1 targets the reproductive system and the gastrointestinal system (Refer Annexure 1).

 

Comparison with US EPA Region 6 effects screening levels as per SACEM procedures

  • The levels of 9 VOCs exceed US EPA Region 6 Screening Levels.
  • Chloroform exceeded safe levels as prescribed by US EPA in 6 out of 10 samples. The levels were between 3346 and 19,429 times higher than safe levels. The sample from "Top of Tagros Security-West room" exceeded the screening level by a factor of 19429.
  • Acrylonitrile found in the sample from Top of Tagros Security-West room exceeded the screening levels by a factor of 6008.
  • 1, 2-Dichloroethane found in the sample from Shasun Chemicals SW corner exceeded the screening levels by a factor of 194.
  • Trichloroethylene found in the sample from Sonanchavadi village exceeded the screening levels by a factor of 1237.

All the above chemicals are known or suspected human or animal carcinogens.

Conclusion:
CSIA’s report confirms that the VOCs in SIPCOT air are clearly above dangerous limits rendering the air unsafe for the residents. Vulnerable populations, including women, children and the elderly, are particularly at threat. The Government has a duty to protect its citizens from known dangers. The very presence, leave alone the high levels, of VOCs and sulphur gases in the air breathed by residents are unacceptable. Chloroform, a carcinogen, was detected in excess of 19000 times above safe levels.

CSIA’s report also confirms SACEM’s bucket findings that SIPCOT air is grossly polluted and unfit to breathe. Under the circumstances, any plan to increase the toxic load in the region is tantamount to intentional poisoning of communities by the state.

SACEM demands that:

  1. The TNPCB take steps to eliminate air pollution, particularly due to toxic gases such as VOCs and sulphur compounds, with the involvement of the Cuddalore Local Area Environmental Committee, and local communities.
  2. The Tamilnadu Government should withdraw all proposals for polluting industries in SIPCOT Cuddalore, and should allow only non-polluting industries in the region.

Analysis of the chemicals found in the air samples, comparisons to the USEPA Reference Concentration levels and the USEPA Region 6 Health based screening levels.

NOTE: The units of the chemicals have been converted from mg/m3 to ppb for comparisons with the USEPA Region 6 levels. The units are converted using this formula

ppb = mg/m3 x 24.45
Molecular weight X 1000
of the chemical

Sample 1:
Location:
Top of Tagros Security room-West gate
Date of Sampling: 26.11.2004
Time of Sampling: 4:30 pm to 12:30 am
Duration of Sampling: 8 hours

S No.

Parameter

Results mg/m3

RfC as per US EPA (mg/m3)

No. of times it exceeds the screening levels (approx)

Result (ppb)

EPA Region 6 Screening Level (ppb)

No. of times it exceeds the screening levels (approx)

1.

Acetone

1.82016

370

--

768

308

2.5

2.

Toluene

0.06786

0.4

--

18

--

 

3.

n-Hexane

0.01412

0.2

--

4

--

 

4.

Chloroform

6.6057

0.3

22

1362

0.0701

19429

5.

Methylene Chloride

0.03123

0.004

7.8

9

3.42

2.6

6.

Acetonitrile*

0.0664

0.06

1.1

40

--

 

7.

Triethylamine

0.42642

0.007

60.9

103

6.09

17

8.

Isobutylene

5.496

NA

--

2400

--

 

9.

Acrylonitrile

0.14

0.002

70

140

0.0233

6008

*Violates Texas Long Term Screening Levels

Sample 2:
Location:
Vanavil factory premises – Top of fire hydrant pump house room
Date of Sampling: 27.11.2004
Time of Sampling: 4:00 pm to 12:00 am
Duration of Sampling: 8 hours

S No.

Parameter

Result mg/m3

RfC as per US EPA (mg/m3)

No. of times it exceeds the screening levels (approx)

Result (ppb)

EPA Region 6 Screening Level (ppb)

No. of times it exceeds the screening levels (approx)

1.

Trichloroethylene

0.06444

0.06

1

12

0.918

13

2.

Toluene

0.0377

0.4

--

10

--

 

3.

n-Hexane

0.00706

0.2

--

2

--

 

4.

Acetonitrile

1.4442

0.06

24

87

51.7

1.6

5.

Isobutylene

0.1832

NA

--

80

--

 

Sample 3:
Location: Top of Kudikadu Panchayat School
Date of Sampling: 26.11.2004
Time of Sampling: 9:30 pm to 5:30 am
Duration of Sampling: 8 hours

S No.

Parameter

Result mg/m3

RfC as per US EPA (mg/m3)

No. of times it exceeds the screening levels (approx)

Result (ppb)

EPA Region 6 Screening Level (ppb)

No. of times it exceeds the screening levels (approx)

1.

Toluene

0.06786

0.4

--

18

--

 

2.

n-Hexane

0.00353

0.2

--

1

--

 

3.

Isobutylene

0.5496

NA

--

240

--

 

Sample 4:
Location: Shasun Chemicals SW corner
Date of Sampling: 27.11.2004
Time of Sampling: 5:00 pm to 6:30 am (In between 5 hrs. 30 minutes equipment is stopped)
Duration of Sampling: 8 hours

S No.

Parameter

Result mg/m3

RfC as per US EPA (mg/m3)

No. of times it exceeds the screening levels (approx)

Result (ppb)

EPA Region 6 Screening Level (ppb)

No. of times it exceeds the screening levels (approx)

1.

Acetone

0.34839

370

--

147

--

 

2.

Toluene

0.03393

0.4

--

9

--

 

3.

n-Hexane

0.00353

0.2

--

1

--

 

4.

Chloroform

1.9885

0.3

6.6

410

0.0701

5848

5.

1,2-Dichloroethane

0.0486

0.4

`

12

0.0617

194

6.

Acetonitrile

0.08798

0.06

1.4

53

51.7

1.02

7.

Triethylamine*

0.01656

0.007

2.3

4

--

 

8.

Isobutylene

0.1603

NA

--

70

--

 

*Violates Texas Long Term Screening Levels

Sample 5:
Location: SIPCOT borewell no: 7
Date of Sampling: 28.11.2004
Time of Sampling: 2:15 pm to 10:15 pm
Duration of Sampling: 8 hours

S No.

Parameter

Result mg/m3

RfC as per US EPA (mg/m3)

No. of times it exceeds the screening levels (approx)

Result (ppb)

EPA Region 6 Screening Level (ppb)

No. of times it exceeds the screening levels (approx)

1.

Acetone

0.29625

370

--

125

--

 

2.

Toluene

0.29783

0.4

--

79

--

 

3.

n-Hexane

0.01059

0.2

--

3

--

 

4.

Chloroform

1.32405

0.3

4.4

273

0.0701

3894

5.

Methylene chloride

0.02082

0.004

5.2

6

3.42

1.75

6.

Acetonitrile*

0.0747

0.06

1.2

45

--

 

7.

Triethylamine

0.6417

0.007

91.6

155

6.09

25

8.

Isobutylene

1.145

NA

--

500

--

 

*Violates Texas Long Term Screening Levels

Sample 6:
Location: Selvam house Echankadu Village
Date of Sampling: 27.11.2004
Time of Sampling: 3:50 pm to 11:50 pm
Duration of Sampling: 8 hours

S No.

Parameter

Result mg/m3

RfC as per US EPA (mg/m3)

No. of times it exceeds the screening levels (approx)

Result (ppb)

EPA Region 6 Screening Level (ppb)

No. of times it exceeds the screening levels (approx)

1.

Toluene

0.04901

0.4

--

13

--

 

2.

1,2 Dichloroethane

0.04455

0.4

--

11

0.0617

178

3.

Isobutylene

0.2977

NA

--

130

--

 

Sample 7:
Location: Top of SIPCOT Office
Date of Sampling: 26.11.2004
Time of Sampling: 6:00 pm to 2:00 am
Duration of Sampling: 8 hours

S No.

Parameter

Result mg/m3

RfC as per US EPA (mg/m3)

No. of times it exceeds the screening levels (approx)

Result (ppb)

EPA Region 6 Screening Level (ppb)

No. of times it exceeds the screening levels (approx)

1.

Toluene

0.04901

0.4

--

13

--

 

2.

Acetone

0.62094

370

--

262

--

 

3.

n-Hexane

0.00353

0.2

--

1

--

 

4.

Chloroform

2.25525

0.3

7.5

465

0.0701

6633

5.

Acetonitrile

0.10126

0.06

1.6

61

51.7

1.17

6.

Triethylamine

0.00828

0.007

1.1

2

--

 

7.

Isobutylene

1.8091

NA

--

790

--

 

Sample 8:
Location: CUSECS pump house-2, Opp. to EB sub station
Date of Sampling: 28.11.2004
Time of Sampling: 1:30 pm to 9:30 pm
Duration of Sampling: 8 hours

S No.

Parameter

Result mg/m3

RfC as per US EPA (mg/m3)

No. of times it exceeds the screening levels (approx)

Result (ppb)

EPA Region 6 Screening Level (ppb)

No. of times it exceeds the screening levels (approx)

1.

Toluene

0.01131

0.4

--

3

--

 

2.

Trichloroethylene

0.0537

0.06

--

10

0.918

10.8

3.

Acetone

9.954

370

--

4200

308

14

4.

n-Hexane

0.00706

0.2

--

2

--

 

5.

Chloroform

1.53745

0.3

5.1

317

0.0701

4522

6.

Acetonitrile

0.13778

0.06

2.2

83

51.7

1.60

7.

Isobutylene

0.229

NA

--

100

--

 

Sample 9:
Location: Sonanchavadi village
Date of Sampling: 27.11.2004
Time of Sampling: 7:30 pm to 3:30 am
Duration of Sampling: 8 hours

S No.

Parameter

Result mg/m3

RfC as per US EPA (mg/m3)

No. of times it exceeds the screening levels (approx)

Result (ppb)

EPA Region 6 Screening Level (ppb)

No. of times it exceeds the screening levels (approx)

1.

Toluene

0.05655

0.4

--

15

--

 

2.

Acetone

0.17064

370

--

72

--

 

3.

n-Hexane

0.00706

0.2

--

2

--

 

4.

Chloroform

1.1446

0.3

3.8

236

0.0701

3366

5.

Acetonitrile

0.09628

0.06

1.6

580

51.7

11

6.

Isobutylene

0.3435

NA

--

150

--

 

7.

Trichloroethylene

0.19332

0.06

3.2

36

0.918

1237

Sample 10:
Location: Top of Tamilnadu Hotel, Opp. to Bus Terminal – Cuddalore
Date of Sampling: 28.11.2004
Time of Sampling: 4:40 pm to 12:40 am
Duration of Sampling: 8 hours

S No.

Parameter

Result mg/m3

RfC as per US EPA (mg/m3)

No. of times it exceeds the screening levels (approx)

Result (ppb)

US EPA Region 6 Screening Level (ppb)

No. of times it exceeds the screening levels (approx)

1.

Toluene

0.0754

0.4

--

20

--

 

2.

Acetone

0.01659

370

--

7

--

 

3.

n-Hexane

0.01059

0.2

--

3

--

 

4.

Methanol

0.1179

10

--

90

--

 

5.

Acetaldehyde

6.3

0.009

700

3500

0.726

4820

6.

1,2 Dichloroethane

0.01215

0.4

--

3

0.0617

49

7.

Trichloroethylene

1.36935

0.06

22.8

255

0.918

278

8.

Acetonitrile

0.2324

0.06

3.8

140

51.7

2.7

Results of the 8 hour analysis compared with the grab samples

Chemicals found in 8 hour sampling at different locations

Chemicals found in grab sampling at different locations

Carcinogen

Acetone

Acetone

No

Toluene

Toluene

No

n-Hexane

n-Hexane

No

Chloroform

Chloroform

Yes

Methylene Chloride

Methylene Chloride

Yes

Acetonitrile

Acetonitrile

No

Triethylamine

Not tested for

No

Isobutylene

Not tested for

--

Acrylonitrile

Not found

Yes

Trichloroethylene

Trichloroethene

Yes

1,2-Dichloroethane

1,2-Dichloroethane

Yes

Methanol

Not tested for

No

Acetaldehyde

Not tested for

Yes

Not found

Hydrogen sulphide

No

Not tested for

Methyl mercaptan

No

Not tested for

Dimethyl disulphide

No

Not tested for

Ethanol

No

Not found

Isopropyl alcohol

No

Not found

Carbon tetrachloride

Yes

Not tested for

n –Butyl acetate

No

Not tested for

Carbon disulphide

No

Not tested for

Vinyl chloride

Yes

Not tested for

Bromomethane

Yes

Not tested for

Benzene

Yes

Not found

Acrolein

No

Not tested for

Vinyl acetate

Yes

Not found

2-Butanone (MEK)

No

Not tested for

4-Methyl-2-Pentanone

No

Not tested for

m, p-Xylenes

No

Annexure 1

FACT SHEET ON CHEMICALS FOUND IN THE SAMPLES

S No

Chemical found

Odour

Health Effects

Target Organs

Carcinogen

1.

Acetone

A fragrant, mint-like odour

Irritation eyes, nose, throat; headache, dizziness, Central Nervous System depression; skin diseases

Eyes, skin, respiratory system, central nervous system

No

2.

Toluene

Sweet pungent benzene like odour

Irritation of eyes, nose, weakness and exhaustion, confusion, euphoria, dizziness, headache, tears to eyes, anxiety, muscle fatigue, liver injury, kidney damage

Eyes, skin, respiratory system, Central nervous system, liver and kidney

No

3.

n-Hexane

Gasoline like odour

Irritation of eyes, nose, nausea, headache, numbness, extremities, muscle weakness, dermatitis, dizziness, chemical pneumonia

 

Eyes, skin, respiratory system, Central Nervous System

No

4.

Chloroform

Pleasant odour

Irritation of eyes, skin; dizziness, mental dullness, nausea, confusion; headache, weakness, exhaustion; enlarged liver [potential carcinogen]

Liver, kidneys, heart, eyes, skin, Central nervous system

Cancer Site: [in animals: liver and kidney cancer]

Yes

5.

Methylene Chloride

Faint sweet odour

Irritation eyes, skin; weakness, exhaustion, drowsiness, dizziness; numbness, tingle limbs; nausea; [potential occupational carcinogen]

 

Eyes, respiratory system

Cancer Site: [in animals: lung, liver, salivary & mammary gland tumours]

Yes

6.

Acetonitrile

Aromatic odour

Irritation nose, throat; nausea, vomiting; chest pain; weakness, exhaustion; convulsions; in animals: liver, kidney damage

 

Respiratory system, cardiovascular system, central nervous system, liver, kidneys

No

7.

Triethylamine

A strong, ammonia-like odour

Irritation eyes, skin, respiratory system; in animals: kidney, liver damage

Eyes, skin, respiratory system, cardiovascular system, liver, kidneys

No

8.

Isobutylene

NA

NA

NA

NA

9.

Acrylonitrile

An unpleasant odour

Irritation eyes, skin; headache; sneezing; nausea, vomiting; weakness, exhaustion, dizziness; [potential occupational carcinogen]

Eyes, skin, cardiovascular system, liver, kidneys, central nervous system

Cancer Site [brain tumours, lung & bowel cancer]

Yes

10.

Trichloroethylene

Chloroform like odour

Irritation of eyes and skin; headache, visual disturbances, weakness and exhaustion, dizziness, tremor, drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, liver injury, carcinogen

 

Eyes, skin, respiratory system, heart, liver, kidneys

Cancer Site: [in animals: liver and kidney cancer]

Yes

11.

1,2-Dichloroethane

Chloroform like odour

Irritation eyes; central nervous system depression; nausea, vomiting; dermatitis; liver, kidney, cardiovascular system damage; [potential occupational carcinogen]

Eyes, skin, kidneys, liver, central nervous system, cardiovascular system


Cancer Site [in animals: fore-stomach, mammary gland & circulatory system cancer]

Yes

12.

Methanol

Characteristic pungent odour

Irritation eyes, skin, upper respiratory system; headache, drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, vomiting; visual disturbance, blindness; dermatitis

Eyes, skin, respiratory system, central nervous system, gastrointestinal tract

No

13.

Acetaldehyde

A pungent, fruity odour

Irritation eyes, nose, throat; eye, skin burns; conjunctivitis; cough; central nervous system depression; in animals: kidney, reproductive effects; [potential occupational carcinogen]

Eyes, skin, respiratory system, kidneys, central nervous system, reproductive system

Cancer Site [in animals: nasal cancer]

Yes

   
   
   
   
   
   
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