Bucket Sample Results
Bucket Sample Results
Organizing Project (SWOP) arranged for sixteen bucket samples to be
taken in Corrales residential areas between May 9, 2001 and March 28,
2002. Each sample represents a snapshot of what was in the air during
the 3-minute period that sample was being collected. Corrales residents
usually collected bucket samples when they smelled an unpleasant odor.
the human nose is a poor detector of toxic chemical compounds, as
hazardous chemicals often lack an unpleasant odor. Moreover, these 16
bucket-sample measurements represent only 0.01 % of this 325-day period.
Continuous, comprehensive measurements using an Open-Path FTIR, as
recommended by EPA in their Standard Method TO-16, are essential to
identify pollutants in the air we were breathing during the other 99.99%
of the time.
The fact that
so many Corrales residents are getting sick indicates a serious problem.
Although Intel has not been proven to be the source of these pollutants,
(1) people living closest to Intel have the most health problems, (2)
their health problems coincide with strong chemical odors, and (3)
subsequent review of New Mexico Environment Department records reveals
that these illnesses generally occur during periods when Intel's
pollution control equipment is not operating.
Intel's thermal oxidizers are designed to destroy 95% of the volatile
organic compounds (VOCs), only 5% is released during normal operations.
During periods of oxidizer malfunction, however, 100% of the VOCs is
released, which is 20 times higher than normal. That most illnesses
occur during these shutdowns is strong circumstantial evidence of Intel
these bucket samples found seven of the compounds Intel is allowed to
release by its new permit, and the NIOSH-listed symptoms for exposure to
these compounds describe the health problems experienced by nearby
Corrales residents, which makes it even more likely that Intel is the
source of these pollution-related illnesses.
has claimed bucket sample results are unreliable, Ed Masry, who heads
the law firm that employs Erin Brockovich, developed these bucket sample
systems. Mr. Masry has stated that the bucket sample results are not
only reliable, they are admissible as evidence in legal proceedings, and
have been used many times in this way.
Exposures vs. Resident Exposures
are appropriate before we present our measured concentrations, and the
odor descriptions and symptoms taken from the NIOSH Pocket Guide to
We had hoped
to be able to compare our measured concentrations to safe exposure
limits for residents; however, such guidelines exist only for employees,
based on a 40-hour workweek. Unlike employees, residents may be
continuously exposed to these toxic chemicals.
many of these chemicals have never been tested for safe exposure limits
or health effects. And there are no studies of the health effects that
could result from combinations of the individually tested chemicals.
The health problems reported may be the only
evidence of toxicity for many chemicals whose individual and combined
health risks have never been tested.
exposure limits for employees to toxic chemicals cannot be applied to
nearby residents for many reasons:
are exposed to hazardous chemicals for a maximum of 40 hours per week,
whereas a nearby resident may be exposed continuously 24 hours a day,
every day of the year.
are given safety training, about the hazardous compounds he or she may
work with. Moreover, the employer should have monitoring equipment to
signal the presence of dangerous levels, and also protective clothing
including respirators and even self-contained breathing suits if
conditions warrant them. Residents receive no comparable protection.
receive compensation and other benefits in exchange for accepting
certain risks and inconvenience associated with the job. A nearby
resident receives no such compensation. In fact, nearby residents pay a
severe economic penalty when they try to sell homes located near Intel.
and most important, an employee who feels his job subjects him to
unacceptable risks can always quit. The only way nearby residents can
escape is to sell their homes and move. And, as already noted, they
generally receive much less than the fair market value of a similar home
located far from Intel.
samples, collected and retained in sealed Tedlar bags, were sent to
Performance Analytical Laboratory in Simi Valley, CA. They were analyzed
using EPA Standard Method TO-15, in which the gaseous components are
separated on a gas chromatography column and measured with a mass
spectrometric detector, a technique known as GCMS.
Compounds, Concentrations, and Symptoms
Authorized by Intel's New Permit
was found in all 16 samples; concentrations ranged from a low of 10 to a
high of 29. (The units in all cases are micrograms per cubic meter.) The
average concentration was 18. NIOSH describes acetone as having a
fragrant, mint-like odor. NIOSH symptoms include irritated eyes, nose,
and throat; headache; dizziness; nervous system depression; dermatitis.
was found in 11 of the 16 samples; concentrations ranged from 10 to 300,
with an average of 75. The odor of isopropanol (rubbing alcohol) is well
known. NIOSH symptoms include irritated eyes, nose, and throat;
headache; dizziness; dry cracking skin: and narcosis in animals.
was found in 14 of the 16 samples; concentrations ranged from 5.2 to 18,
with an average of 10. NIOSH lists toluene as having a sweet, pungent
odor. NIOSH symptoms include irritated eyes and nose; headache;
confusion; dizziness; anxiety; dermatitis, and liver and kidney damage.
was found in 10 of the 16 samples; concentrations ranged from 20 to 50,
with an average of 34. The odor and effects of ethanol are well known,
and it is not considered to be a particular hazard at low
concentrations. We list ethanol only to be complete in our results.
chloride was found in 3 of the 16 samples; concentrations ranged
form 5.9 to 13, with an average of 8.5. NIOSI-I describes methylene
chloride as having a chloroform-like odor. NIOSH symptoms include
irritated eyes and skin; dizziness and nausea and is a potential
carcinogen for lung, liver, and breast cancers.
was found in 2 of the 16 samples, with concentrations of 5.7 and 9.0.
NIOSH describes benzene as having an aromatic odor. NIOSH symptoms
include irritated eyes, nose and throat; dizziness; headache; nausea and
dermatitis. Benzene is a known carcinogen that causes leukemia.
was found in only one of the 16 samples, at a concentration of 8.5.
NIOSH describes the odor of xylene as aromatic. NIOSH symptoms include
irritated eyes, nose, skin, and throat; dizziness, nausea, vomiting,
abdominal pain, and dermatitis.
Not Authorized by Intel's New Permit
disulfide was found in 4 of the 16 samples; concentrations ranged
from 3.6 to 6.5, with an average of 5.2. NIOSH describes carbon
disulfide as having a sweet, ether-like odor. NIOSH symptoms include
dizziness, headache, poor sleep, burning eyes, dermatitis, kidney and
liver damage, and reproductive effects.
was found in 7 of the 16 samples; concentrations ranged from 9 to 40,
with an average of 19. This compound is not listed by NIOSH, so we
cannot provide odor or symptom information. Although 2-methylpentane is
not authorized by Intel's permit, it does allow them to emit
2,2,4-trimethylpentane. Therefore, the 2-methylpentane may have been
formed from trimethylpentane.
sulfide was found twice at concentrations of 7.2 and 9.3. Carbonyl
sulfide is another compound for which NIOSH has no listing, so we cannot
provide odor or symptom information.
1-butoxy-2-propanol, butylated hydroxytoluene were each found once.
Although Intel could be the source of one or more or these, we lack
sufficient evidence at this time to make such allegations. None of these
compounds is listed by NIOSH, so we cannot provide odor or symptom
silicon-containing compounds, not authorized by Intel's permit, were
found. These were silane and hexamethylcyclotrisiloxane.
Silane was found twice at concentrations of 20 and 70, whereas
hexamethylcyclotrisiloxane appeared only once at a concentration of 10.
These are among the compounds for which NIOSH has no listing, so we
cannot provide odor or symptom information.
because the Intel facility converts silicon wafers to silicon
microchips, Intel is the only reasonable source of these two compounds.
Even if these are reaction products of dichlorosilane that Intel is
authorized to release, the release of either of these unauthorized
compounds would be a permit violation. Such compounds could not possibly
come from a service station, dry cleaner, sewage plant, crematorium,
skunk, among other possibilities Intel has tried to blame.
We also found
trace amounts of many long-chain hydrocarbons and highly branched
hydrocarbons that are typical components of gasoline. Thus, gasoline
vapors are readily detectable, although they are easily distinguished
from definite Intel emissions, probable Intel emissions, and possible
bucket sample results have shown: (1) Chemicals that Intel is known to
use and release can easily be measured in nearby residential areas,
contrary to Intel's claims. (2) Traces of gasoline components
are often found; however, these are easily distinguished from Intel
emissions, again contrary to Intel's claims. (3) Specific other
chemicals were found, for which Intel is the only reasonable source. (4)
If Intel is releasing these unauthorized chemical compounds, such
releases constitute permit violations. (5) The NIOSH symptoms for the
compounds found in these bucket samples describe the symptoms reported
by Corrales residents who live near Intel, (6) Finally, although our 16
bucket sample measurements cannot provide all of the information we
seek, they confirm the presence of toxic pollutants and demonstrate the
need for continuous monitoring with a comprehensive instrument, such as
an Open-Path FTIR.