Monday, December 12, 2005

County Ranks Tops In Health Risks From Pollution

For about 10 years I have been learning how badly polluted the air, water and land in Hamblen County and East Tennessee have become after decades of constant industrialization. The result of the release of deadly toxic pollution have put Hamblen County among the most polluted counties in the nation, not just in the state.

For example:

In 2002, this county ranked among the dirtiest/worst 10% of all counties in the U.S. in terms of total environmental releases."

Based on EPA's most current data, this county ranked among the dirtiest/worst 20% of all counties in the US in terms of an average individual's added cancer risk from hazardous air pollutants."

This information is compiled here, where you can submit your own area code and find out details about how much toxic pollution is released, what illnesses are likely to occur and which industrial sites release the most as well as what toxic elements are released.

The chemicals tracked pose serious risks for Developmental Health and Reproductive Health for every resident. In fact, the county is ranked Number One in toxic air releases that could damage Developmental Health, with almost 18 million pounds of toxic releases in the air alone. The same is true when it comes to toxic releases that could damage Reproductive Health.

Cardiovascular or blood toxicants also leave the county ranked as the worst in the state.

The information is staggering and while it might take you some time to review the information here, it may shed much light on the poor health conditions that exist, the potential damage you risk by breathing the air or drinking the water and which industrial entities are to blame.


  1. I remember when I lived in Hamblen county there were times some company let stuff into the water system and the water would smell like cooked green beans. We would also collect a nice glass of tap water and watch it start to crystilize flakes that would settle like a snow globe. The water company said it was nothing to worry about. Hot water tanks only last about two years before you need to work on them in Hamblen County. Caused by sediment collection and the lower element would fry in the goo. Hot water heaters were not designed to heat limestone-tissue paper pudding anyway.

  2. Dad has to buy a new water heater because the one he's had for not even 6 years is full of lime and...? Showers are short and sweet of late.

  3. So sad to see the people and resources of this beautiful region damaged by the few who don't give a damn.

  4. Anonymous11:39 AM

    At least, the largest polluter has shut down. maybe the air will be much cleaner, and at least i don't have to smell those chemicals anymore.

  5. Anonymous7:15 AM

    The number 1, 3, 4 and 7 plants on the list are no more.

    8 has moved to Bulls Gap other than warehousing.

    6 and 9 are in bankruptcy.

    Does this paint a picture that old industries that were involved with a manufacturing process that cannot survive in America today were also involved with pollution??

    If the data is updated, Hamblen County would be one of the cleaner areas in the US.

  6. Sadly, Anonymous, city business leaders helped to delay closures of the plants mentioned or the county would have seen an improvement of toxic waste releases several years ago rather than in the last six to eight months. And efforts continue to bring more and more industry into the community with little effort made to attract non-polluting businesses.

    Another point is that even if zero toxic releases occur in the county, decade after decade of toxic waste dumped in the millions of pounds per square mile will continue to damage residents, and land and air and water for more decades, bringing more health problems to every man woman and child who live in the area.

    And toxic waste does not stay within a county line boundary - surrounding east TN counties continue to be rated with unhealthy air and high levels of ozone.

    Major strides have been made in the last few years but the deforming and deadly toxins remain all around us.

    It should also be noted that agencies like the EPA charged with tracking health hazards and toxic wastes have been ordered to stop reporting on many of the most dangerous releases of toxic wastes.

    We can pretend the problems are gone, but the harm remains.

  7. Anonymous2:34 PM

    joe powell,

    you need to study the chemical in more detail before starting on your gloom and doom.

    The major contributor to the environmental rankings was carbon disulfide. Carbon disulfide has a half life of less than 12 hours when resting on soil or water or in the air. it and the health hazards present with it are not long term contaminates, as your responce suggest.

    For a full evaluation of the chemical, go to

  8. Another good source of info on the toxic chemicals released in our community is

    The greatest damage for the top toxic chemicals from carbon disulfide to toulene is for those who work in industries where these chemicals are used. Exposure can cause lifelong health problems, which means thousands of workers are and have been at great risk for many years.

    While some chemicals are rapidly dissapated in the environment, some are not - again the greatest health risks are for workers. And the environmental effects vary depending on the toxic chemicals which are released.

    And this post wasn't about doom and gloom, but about informing the public of the dangers around them, dangers that have been affecting lives for decades.

  9. Ahhhh... Poor Anonymous doesn't wike all da scary doom and gwoom. Maybe if Anonymous shuts his eyes willy, willy hard, it will all just go away... Maybe if Anonymous tells everybody one or two wittle facts, then all the other big bully facts will just take their toys and go home and quit beating up on poor, wittle Anonymous...

    You can play the Pollyanna role all you like, it doesn't change the truth.

    Is "Anonymous" Jack Fishman?

    Is that you Jack?

    Sure sounds like Jack Fishman, or at least a (un)reasonable facsimile.
    I smell the stench of corruption and yellow journalism and confusing a few facts for the entire truth.
    A lot like the smell of sulfur that often corrupts the air of Hamblen County.
    Or maybe it's Satan come to whisper some advice in your ear.
    Are your ears burning Anonymous?

    I'm taking a look at these studies, and ya know what...? I really don't give a flying fuck whether or not the largest polluter is gone because there is such a proliferation of companies that dump their waste into the air, the soil, and the ground water of Hamblen County, that one big company down is hardly a drop in the bucket. So what if the biggest company was dumping a chemical that dissipated quickly. Let's add up all the other polluters and all their pollutants. Some of those chemicals--in only small amounts--are highly dangerous to the environment. It adds up to a very serious problem. Or perhaps math isn't your forté.

    You can't see the forest for the trees, can you Anonymous? Of course, if current practices in Hamblen County are allowed to continue, there won't be any trees left to mistake for a forest. Oops! That old pesky math again. Addition, subtraction.... just so very confusing for you. I'm sorry.

    Heads up "Anonymous," the truth isn't always about getting your warm fuzzy on. Sometimes the truth hurts. Of course, you wouldn't recognize the truth if it came up and bit you on your rotund ass (this is assuming you are Jack Fishman, but if not, please assume that I would have indicated your proper ass size).

  10. Anonymous6:31 AM

    the Editor needs to go pee on somebody who cares about trying to manipulate the facts into a story of how evil, corrupt and polluted Hamblen County is.

    Go to Bayonne,NJ, Industrial City, CA, East St. Louis, IL. We have no problem compared to these and a few hundred other areas in the US.

    But that doesn't fit your need to feel bad and cry and moan about the environment.

    Pull your head out of your rotund ass and see if the facts will support your capability for whining.

  11. Anonymous -
    I find it curious that someone would feel so concerned about responding to this post but not feel compelled enough to use a name or link to identify themselves.

    The facts are plain - pollution has been so great in Hamblen County that it has been ranked as one of the most polluted in the nation. If a factory relocates, the county can benefit yet some other community will then receive the deadly toxins. Improvements in the amounts and kinds of pollution have been made by industrial relocations and bankruptcy, not by an active and informed community. And providing the information has brought one or two voices of dismassal, of "it's not that bad compared to others" and complaints that the message and the messenger are the problem.

    This falls into the category of non-denial denials, I suppose.

    Judging by the response to the Editor's comments I have to wonder too, Anonymous, about your identity. But only for a moment.

    The facts regarding the amounts of pollution and the damage done to residents will never be erased or improved with lip service. An informed community is fearful to some who benefit from silence

  12. Anonim-ass,
    I'll pee on whomever I choose. It will add to your wonderfully caustic, toxic evironment. Then you can claim that my pee isn't as bad as the last guy's pee. And w'll all live in a flowery, happy, cartoon pretend world.

    Let's be clear: Please point out where I manipulated ONE fact to suit my needs and my needs only. That's your m.o., not mine. By your logic, if battered women in Bayounne, NJ suffer more black eyes and broken ribs than the women in Morristown, Tennessee, then I should just shut up and take it becuase it could be worse. "We have no problem compared to these and a few hundred other areas in the US."

    But WE do have a problem that makes us one of the most polluted countys in the US.

    What doesn't "fit" in this diatribe is you attempting to paint the sky a new color and call it a Picasso. If you would open your eyes, you would see that my mighty mighty head is well out of my rotund ass. And the only whining around here has been coming from you.

    There is no such thing as public opinion. There is only published opinion. -Winston Churchill-

  13. On second thought, maybe it's not Jack Fishman. Maybe it's Mike Fishman. Ahhh... the fruit doesn't fall too far from that tree, does it?

    Anyone for a nice tall, cold glass of Nepotism?

    Come on Anonymous... 'fess up. Reveal thineself. The truth will set you free, baby.
    (You are aware that the technology does exist and is readily available to those of us who want to know where you are posting from.)

    Of course, if you are part of the Fishman Klan, I can see why having to post as "Anonymous" would be necessary... telling me "to go pee on somebody who cares" is not exactly something you'd want the general public to know. How would it look?

    I don't give them hell. I just tell the truth and they think it is hell. -Harry Truman-

  14. OK, for those of you who haven't gone to the site to read the statistics:

    CARBON DISULFIDE is ranked as one of the most hazardous compounds (worst 10%) to ecosystems and human health.
    Hamblen County Ranks #1 in the entire country... that is, the USA ... for releases between 1988 to 2002
    17,711,980 total. 16,807,951 of it into the air.

    Now old Anonymous wants you to believe that Carbon Disulfide ain't no big thang.
    According to The ATSDR (
    Exposure to carbon disulfide can occur by breathing it in the air and by drinking water or eating foods that contain it. Breathing very high levels can be life threatening because of its effects on the nervous system. Breathing low levels for long periods may result in headaches, tiredness, trouble sleeping, and slight changes in the nerves. Carbon disulfide has been found in at least 210 of the 1,430 National Priorities List sites identified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    So, other ways we rank in the U.S.
    6th in the Nation for Toxic Air Releases
    1st in the Nation for Recognized Developmental Toxicants to Air
    1st in the Nation for Recognized Reproductive Toxicants to Air
    1st in the Nation for Suspected Cardivascular or Blood Toxicants in Air

    (We're Number One!)

    As of 2002, Hamblen County is ranked in the top 10% of Dirtiest/Worst Counties in US

    Now, all of this pollution didn't just disappear when the factories skipped town.
    Anonymous wants you to look at something else, "...see, doesn't this look pretty and shiny?"

    The facts--ALL the facts--do not add up to a pretty, shiny, happy, people holding hands picture.
    Sorry if this isn't the news you wanted to hear.
    But it is true.

    There has been plenty of looking the other way going on so that the good ol' boys of Hamblen County could line their collective, toxic pockets.

    I don't like that.

    I plan on doing something about it.

    You've been given a warning boys.
    I'm back in town.
    I'm VERY good at research.
    I'm VERY computer savy.
    I have an address book of names, numbers, and addresses to die for.
    And people (for whatever reason) like to tell me things.

    And I have a big mouth.
    Oh... and I will pee on you...
    Thar she blows!

    In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act. -George Orwell-

  15. Anonymous1:11 PM

    Please give us some info on your city administrator. Kingsport, another polluted city in East Tennessee, is seriously considering hiring him for City Manager. Where does he stand on making industries accountable to the citizens? Or being selective in recruiting new industries? How is his record in standing up for those who work in the chicken factories, etc.?

  16. Anonymous --

    I'm not in the habit of responding to questions like that
    from someone unwilling to leave a name.
    If you wish to email me, my address is available in my profile.
    Also, he served as city manager in Johnson City prior to coming
    here, so I also suggest you speak with officials there.
    As I said - if you want to keep your identity unknown, fine,
    just email me privately.