So, what have we been breathing?

Eden Bloom
4 min readMar 13, 2023

On Thursday March 9, 2023 The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) released a report[1] on the air sampling conducted in connection to the air quality violations at Stellantis’ Detroit Assembly Complex. The findings are extremely concerning.

EGLE originally conducted sampling in June 2022, but the samples from that collection were improperly handled and sent to the wrong address. The sampling was repeated in early October 2022.

Sampling Locations from Detroit Assembly Complex Stellantis On-Site Sampling Report Mack Avenue, Detroit, Michigan https://www.michigan.gov/egle/-/media/Project/Websites/egle/Documents/Reports/AQD/facilities/Stellantis/2023-03-09-Stellantis-DACM-Sampling-Report.pdf

The sampling found three pollutants had a higher concentration than their odor threshold. They include benzaldehyde, ethylbenzene and m,p xylene. Detroit News: “Exposure to these chemicals at varying levels can irritate the throat, nose and eyes; damage the nervous system; and even cause death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”[2]

Benzaldehyde — https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/benzaldehyde

Benzaldehyde appears as a clear colorless to yellow liquid with a bitter almond odor. Flash point near 145 °F. Denser than water and insoluble in water. Hence sinks in water. Vapors are heavier than air. The primary hazard is to the environment. Immediate steps should be taken to limit spread to the environment. Easily penetrates the soil to contaminate groundwater and nearby waterways.[3]

Ethylbenzene — https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/ethylbenzene

Ethylbenzene is an aromatic hydrocarbon composed of a benzene ring linked to an ethyl group. Ethylbenzene is a constituent of petroleum and coal tar and is used as either a petroleum additive or a chemical intermediate in the production of polystyrene. High level exposure to airborne ethylbenzene is associated with eye and throat irritation.[4]

p-Xylene — https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/p-xylene

There are three isomers of Xylene. o-, m-, and p-. The minimum risk level for chronic exposure to inhaled Xylenes all together is 50ppb.The highest levels of m and p Xylene detected were 174% that level (87ppb) on their own. o-Xylene at the same site came back at 24ppb. While that doesn’t reach the minimum risk level on its own, combined, total Xylene isomers measured 222% of the minimum risk level for chronic exposure. [5]

O-xylene and m-xylene can cause irritation eyes, skin, nose, throat; dizzi ness, excitement, drowsiness, incoordination, staggering gait; corneal vacuolization; anorexia, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain; dermatitis.

Research Note also see m-Xylene and Xylene in PubChem.

We DO NOT want to add stress to our neighbors’ already overburdened experience, but we have fought for this level of analysis and transparency. Extreme concern is warranted about even minimal exposure to these chemicals by neighbors directly adjacent on Beniteau, through the Eastside, and across the city of Detroit. This is a public-funded project.[6]

Where is the accountability?

Here is a list of the Detroit Assembly Complex Violation Notices
October 20, 2021 — Failure to duct EUPRIMER ambient flash zones’ emissions to regenerative thermal oxidizer control.
November 3, 2021 — Persistent and objectionable paint/solvent odors of moderate to strong intensity (Level 3 and 4) observed emitting from the facility and impacting nearby neighborhoods.
March 24, 2022 — Mack Assembly — Objectionable paint/solvent and chemical odors of moderate intensity (Level 3) observed emitting from the facility and impacting nearby neighborhoods.
May 20, 2022 — Mack Assembly — Objectionable paint/solvent and chemical odors of moderate intensity (Level 3) observed emitting from the facility and impacting nearby neighborhoods.
October 4, 2022 — Mack Assembly — Objectionable paint/solvent and chemical odors of moderate intensity (Level 3) observed emitting from the facility and impacting nearby neighborhoods.
November 14, 2022 — Jefferson North exceeded the VOC Emission Limit of 4.8 lbs VOC per Job.

Source:
Source Information Documents for: FCA US, LLC - Detroit Assembly Complex
EGLE’s Stellantis Website

NOTE: Chemical information from PubChem, an open chemistry database at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Since 2004 PubChem has become a key chemical information resource for scientists, students, and the general public. https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/

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