Regulators test emissions at Kokomo glass company

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management has begun testing around Kokomo Opalescent Glass to determine if the art-glass manufacturer is emitting hazardous amounts of potentially toxic materials.

The Environmental Protection Agency started investigating in February after a glass factory in Oregon was found to be releasing dangerous amounts of toxic metals, The Kokomo Tribune reported.

That investigation led the EPA to investigate glass manufacturers across the nation. The agency determined the Kokomo factory was violating the Clean Air Act by failing to obtain a federal permit that regulates glass manufacturers.

The EPA alleged the violation had resulted in the company emitting elevated amounts of metals into the air.

IDEM ended up taking samples from nine locations near the manufacturer to test for elevated amounts of potentially toxic metals, such as arsenic, chromium, lead, mercury, selenium and silver. The tests revealed slightly elevated levels of arsenic at five locations.

"While the arsenic risk-based screening levels are exceeded at several of the sample locations, these exceedances are minimal, and they do not pose a health risk to the citizens," IDEM spokesman Barry Sneed said in an email. "This is based upon significant experience developing and evaluating risk-based screening levels and risk assessments in general."

Kokomo Opalescent Glass President Richard Elliott said the facility doesn't use the metal in its raw form in its batch-glass formula. He said arsenic only appears as a small subcomponent in other glass KOG purchases from another manufacturer.

IDEM now plans to set up air monitoring equipment to further test for elevated pollution levels.

Sneed said samples will be taken at various times over the next year. Filters collected by the samplers will be shipped to a lab contracted by the EPA to be analyzed for 33 trace metals.

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