Bullseye understands the public interest and supports stronger environmental standards for our industry. To that effect, the company has already begun the process of installing 99% efficient baghouses on furnaces that melt glasses with chromium, cadmium, nickel, lead, manganese, and arsenic. DEQ and Horizon Engineering, an outside consultant, are testing these filtration devices to make certain they operate correctly. For the most recent news from Bullseye Glass, please see bullseyeglass.com/about-us/links.html.
No. There is no immediate health risk. The recent Oregon Healthy Authority (“OHA”) studies found that there was no increased cancer risk in SE Portland attributed to Bullseye’s use of these materials. As the OHA states on its website, “it is unlikely that the level of metals detected in the air would cause any immediate health problems for people.” OHA also concluded that current data shows “long-term health risks are relatively low.”
Further, DEQ found no health concerns due to cadmium, arsenic, total chromium or hexavalent chromium in the soil around Bullseye’s factory. Soil samples showed soil levels were generally below naturally occurring or “background” levels of heavy metals. Keith Johnson, manager for the DEQ’s Northwest Region Cleanup Program, stated, “[o]ngoing emissions from the Bullseye facility are not resulting in harmful impacts to soils around the facility.”
DEQ’s and OHA’s own statements demonstrate that the rule is not needed to prevent “serious prejudice to the public interest.”
Since being notified in February 2016 about preliminary air quality findings by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Bullseye Glass voluntarily agreed to suspend the use of raw materials containing arsenic, cadmium and chromium until filtration systems (also referred to as baghouses) are installed. We won't be using chromium until source (stack) testing is completed and the efficiency of filtering is confirmed. We have one filtration system in place and are able to melt cadmium with that system.
We began installing our pilot filtration system in March 2016 and will continue installing filtration systems to comprehensively cover all furnaces using arsenic, cadmium, chromium, nickel, lead, and manganese by September 1, 2016. Testing is underway to demonstrate that chromium III does not convert to chromium VI in Bullseye’s furnaces. Depending on the results of the chromium source tests, DEQ will determine how much chromium III can be melted.
DEQ should focus on permanent rules, based on scientific investigation and a thoughtful process to address Portland’s air quality issues. Bullseye will support that effort. These rules should support the safety of the community and give clear directions to businesses. New regulations should cover all businesses, not just target specific industries.
Many of the green glasses Bullseye makes include Chromium compounds that contain trivalent chromium (Cr+3), a naturally occurring element. Cr+3 can oxidize to dangerous hexavalent chromium (Cr+6) under certain conditions. However, if that happens the glass doesn't come out green, so our manufacturing process includes steps to keep the chromium in its safe trivalent state.
For more information on the subject, here is a post made by Dr. William LaCourse, a professor of glass science at Alfred State University in New York State, to a discussion on Eastside Portland Air Coalition Facebook Group on March 13, 2016.
... I want to add a little to the discussion of what happens when Chrome oxides are added to a glass batch and then heated to form the glass melt. I know that one post raised a concern/fear that the Cr in a glass batch would convert to Cr+6 when added to the glass batch and then heated. Further, a newspaper article suggested that the melting conditions used by some companies made it worse. I disagree with the analysis in that post and article as it relates to glass melting. The glass batch is much different from the conditions assumed by those articles. Generally, the Cr+3 does not oxidize to the +6 state unless the glass engineer wants it to. He/she has a lot control over what happens. If it did convert, the glass would not have the right color and would be useless.
Dr. LaCourse also provided additional information on this issue:
It has been reported in the media that in 2007 Bullseye lobbied heavily for an exemption to EPA regulations that would have required the company to install pollution control devices on their furnaces. To set the record straight, Bullseye did not "lobby heavily" to be excluded from Subpart 6S of the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP). The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asked for public comment and we responded at the suggestion of the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. Click here to see the public comment for Bullseye Glass.
As a comment to the proposed regulation, we explained that our furnaces are small and periodic. They are used to melt raw materials 40 hours per week as opposed to continuous furnaces that melt 24/7 year round.
Furthermore, a typical Bullseye furnace melts 100 tons of glass per year in comparison to the furnaces of a green wine bottle manufacturer that can melt over 100,000 tons of glass annually. Stated another way, the continuous furnace at a bottle factory would melt 1000 times more glass than a furnace at Bullseye's facility.
Under EPA Subpart 6S — even with emission controls — the continuous furnace cited above is allowed to emit up to 2000 lbs per year of Hazardous Air Pollutants (.02lbs/ton) into the air. In the case of green bottles, this is mostly chrome. While Bullseye’s estimated annual chrome emissions — even on an unfiltered furnace — would be under 30 lbs per year.
Since allowable emissions are based on tonnage, it makes sense that the EPA ruled for our exemption on the basis of our size and discontinuous process.
That being said, in order to address the concerns of our neighbors, Bullseye is moving forward with emission controls and hopes soon to be the cleanest little glass factory in the world!
Yes. At cold temperatures and typical firing temperatures, the colorants are encapsulated in the glass and the glass does not emit odors or toxics into the air.
However, ventilation is recommended to dissipate odors from shelf separators or vapors from certain non-glass materials applied to the surface of the glass and fired.
Your safety is important to us. Here are some links to articles about safety in the kiln glass studio: