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The Sounds of Silence

The explosion at the Dow chemical plant in Plaquemine, Louisiana on July 14th was so powerful it registered on a seismometer located more than six-miles away!

THE blast sending a mushroom cloud hundreds of feet into the air.

And while the investigation is still ongoing, Iberville Parish officials have already stated that the explosion was, “likely caused by ethylene glycol.”

One of a family of dangerous chemicals which Dow was manufacturing at the now-shuttered plant, ethylene glycol is most commonly used in the manufacturing of airplane de-icers and other anti-freezes.

And paint!

Déjà vu, All Over Again!

THE second mushroom cloud of the summer rose over a Sherwin-Williams manufacturing facility in Garland, Texas last week. The plant which makes industrial coatings and resins for the world’s largest paint manufacturer burst into flames on August 7th at 1:00 a.m., likely when a spark met the fumes from similar chemicals to the one’s which took out their rage at Dow Plaquemine just weeks earlier!

It seems that the world’s largest paint manufacturer had invested heavily in the type of fire mitigation and containment systems these chemicals necessitate; drone footage of the plant taken after the fire was extinguished shows the facility largely intact, with the contents of their chemical storage tanks seemingly contained.

But despite Sherwin's best-laid plans, the event remains an environmental disaster for the city of Garland and surrounding areas. A day after the fire Sherwin announced that the foam retardant of their fire suppression system had escaped the property, running into nearby waterways.

The plume spread from there.

To date the city of Garland has removed more than 1,000,000 gallons of tainted water from local rivers, streams and other tributaries, while nearby Sunnyvale, Texas was forced to construct a dam to keep their water treatment and reservoirs free of the pollutants.

They’re Forever!

It remains unclear how either fire started, though that does not mean that the blasts are mysteries! All fires start the same way as these two did: spark meets fuel.

And while investigations will be done to determine THE spark, you don’t need to be Sherlock Holmes to know what fed the summer’s mushroom clouds. THE fuel of choice for America's paint manufacturers: per-and polyfluoroalkyls or PFAS.

Chemicals so dangerous that their inventor 3M has pledged to stop production of the cancer-causing combustibles by 2025!

Others are following 3M’s lead with many familiar brands pledging to remove forever chemicals from their supply chains. Recently Dick’s Sporting Goods joined Target, REI, McDonalds and countless other companies in pledging to make their products and their packaging PFAS-free.

All while the paint manufacturers say, not so fast!

11,994 to Go!

Already responsible for 58% of the microplastics in the world’s oceans and the planetary scars of their pigment mining, paint manufacturers have done little to mitigate the exigent threats posed by their use of this killer class of chemicals.

Tired of watching paint manufacturers poison their air and waters-and of waiting for federal action-some states are taking matters into their own hands with policies relating to managing PFAS already on the books in 25 states.

Unsurprisingly, the ACA doesn’t think much of those efforts.

But in March of this year the EPA proposed the nation’s first ever national drinking water standard, and the regulation of six of the most dangerous 12,000 PFAS.

THE federal agency charged with protecting the nation’s natural environment, expects to finalize the regulation by the end of this year!

That pace hastened by a government survey released in 2020 which showed that, “At least 45% of the nation’s tap water is estimated to have one or more types of the chemicals known as per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances, or PFAS.”

One, or More?

If the American Coatings Association had any plans to accept responsibility for their use of PFAS or show leadership in eliminating them from their chemistry, they would tell you about it here.

Though I can save you the click!

And anyone expecting that to change anytime soon, is forgetting their history!


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