A Toxic Tour
A Toxic Tour is a trip through time as well as space. You travel back through time from what’s now an
empty lot through a series of companies that have each dumped a layer of toxics on top of the
others. Some of these sites are still occupied by the same businesses they have been for decades.
Other sites have been cleaned up to various degrees, but many have just been confined inside a
cyclone fence or under a dirt or blacktop cap. The assumption is that nobody will ever go there to
dig up the soil or come in contact with it at the surface. The effectiveness of protecting future
visitors to the sites depends on so-called institutional controls, ranging from prohibitions on
building schools to bans on digging or on eating whatever is able to grow in the dirt fill. Some
institutional controls include barriers or signs, but most descriptions of the institutional controls
are tucked away only in some paperwork somewhere. Those descriptions are usually supposed to
be reviewed every 5 years to make sure they are still in place and still effective. Yet how can
anybody really tell, short of a long term health study, how effective they are at keeping the
community and the environment safe?
The government sets standards for how clean is clean at these sites based on the chances of somebody
getting cancer or some other serious health problem from exposure to the site. Our understanding
of how cancer or other health problems develop from the contaminants, though, can change as we
learn more over the years. Already the old understandings of what is a safe level for lead or for TCE
(Trichloroethylene—see glossary at the end of this presentation) have become stricter after a
number of former sites had been cleaned up to the older, less protective standards. Are we going
back to those old sites and cleaning them up to our newer standards? And we are only aware of
the tip of the iceberg about how toxic substances interact with each other to make a chemical
mixture worse than the sum of its individual chemicals. In other words, what was considered a
protective cleanup from yesterday may no longer be understood as a safe cleanup tomorrow.
But in the meanwhile, the site could have been assumed to be cleaned up forever and forgotten
about. The job of following up on all these old sites in perpetuity is simply going to get lost in
the shuffle, if it has not already. So all institutional controls depend on citizen vigilance and
I’m passing along my institutional memory to you with this guidebook, hoping you’ll take it up
with vigilance to clean up the land better in your generation than others have done when they
hand the chance but didn’t’ take it. That’s the legacy we need to pass along, not a legacy of
hazardous waste left behind for future community members to suffer from and be stuck with
Get creative. At the suggestion of Mary Nelson, in 1990 I began leading and co-leading Toxic
Tours in Richmond with various organizations and partners. I once even led boat tours of toxic
sites on the South Richmond shoreline with the Baykeeper at the helm. Using this presentation
you can put together your own Toxic Tour of Richmond.
--Steve Linsley, 2013
Site 1—350 Carlson Ave.
Railroad shop. TCE, PCE, lead in soil and groundwater
Note: See Glossary at the end of this presentation for definitions of all
Site 2: Pullman Property—Carlson Blvd & Pullman Ave.
From the 1900s through the 1950s the Pullman Company sandblasted layers
of lead-based paint prior to repainting railcars. Lead-contaminated soil from
the site was removed, but arsenic remained in all 18 samples collected after
Site 3 . . .Miraflores Nursery, S. 47th
St at Wall
PCE, chlorinated pesticides, lead in soil and groundwater; the 45th
plume from the nurseries put PCE and TCE in residential groundwater
Site 4—Veolia/CAETC/Onyx—1125 Hensley Ave.
Bay Area environmental/California Advanced Environmental Technology
Corp./ONYX. Hazardous waste transfer facility
Site 5: Blair Landfill for Stauffer Chemical—foot of S.
850 parts per million (ppm) DDT in the soil as well as dieldrin, arsenic,
cadmium, and lead in excess of clean up standards
Blair Landfill for Stauffer Chemical—slide 2
This site also includes the Stege Property Pistol Range; lead slugs in soil
over 200,000 parts per million
Site 6—Summer (del Caribe) Chemical—2020 Wright
Fireproofing material manufacturer: workers wore lead-contaminated
clothing home to their children; high lead (solder), plus zinc (flux) and
VOCs in groundwater from on-site burial. Some ran off property and
concentrated in a ditch on the N. side of the 2100 block of Meeker Ave.
Site 7—Great Western Chemical—860 Wharf Street
Ferric chloride produced from hydrochloric acid on site and in sewer
discharge; TCE in groundwater
Site 8—California Oils, PVO—1145 Harbour Way
Vegetable oil refiner; phenols, nickel, and acid contamination on site and
in sewer discharges
Site 9: University of California/California Cap Company
1301 S. 46th
Mercury in groundwater and soil from mercury fulminate in explosive cap
manufacturing and arsenic from Wood Products Laboratory; cinders from
Stauffer Chemical, spread all over this property to fill in the Bay and suppress
weeds and dust, contain arsenic, copper, lead , mercury, and PCBs above
hazardous waste levels (cont. next slide)
University of California—slide 2
Also in soil are chlordane and DDT/DDE/DDD. Arsenic, beryllium
cadmium, copper, mercury, nickel, carbon tetrachloride, DCE, TCE, PCE,
vinyl chloride, and PCBs were in groundwater above drinking water
Maximum Contaminant Levels.
Site 10—Liquid Gold—South of I-580, East of Bayview
Hazardous waste storage site: toluene, nickel in groundwater; PCBs,
phenol, lead, zinc, copper, chromium, nickel, volatile organic compounds
Site 11—Zeneca/ICI Americas/Stauffer—1415 S. 47th
Stauffer’s Elwood Trimpey said their pesticides were “so harmless I could
drink a glass of it right now and it would have no effect.” Uranium and
beryllium metal were melted. John de Benedictus stated they used vinyl
chloride in research . They manufactured carbon disulfide, . . .
(cont. next slide)
Stauffer Chemical/ICI Americas/Zeneca—slide 2
Sulfuric (battery) acid, alum, phosphate fertilizer, titanium trichloride, and
pesticides. Proprietary pesticides include captan (thiocarbamate, molinte
(thiocarbamate, bensulide or Phosmet (thio phospate) fonofos (thio phosphate),
metam sodium or Vapam (dithiocarbamate, carbophenothion (thio phosphate),
cycloate (thiocarbamate, butylate (thiocarbamate), EOTC or Eptam
(thiocarbamate, flurochloridone (chloropyrrollidinone), napropamide or Devrinol
(amide, pebulate (thiocarbamate), and vernolate (thiocarbamate). Hi soil
concentration include arsenic (1,660 ppm), mercury (11.6 ppm), zinc (1,470 ppm),
lead (346 ppm), nickel, copper, cadmium, DDD/DDE/DDT, PCBs, PCE, TCE, DCA,
DCE, chlorobenzene, benzene, vinyl chloride, etc., in soil gas and groundwater.
Site 12: Chevron Refinery--841 Chevron Way
As of 1990, 115-174 million pounds of toxics stored on site. (2.9 million gal
toluene, 100,000 gal phenol, 1.9 million gal benzene, 230,000 lb asbestos,
1,240 lb lead, 100,000 gal nickel, 10,000 lb zinc, 1,000 lb cadmium, 1,700 gal
mercury. ) 240,000 pounds per year of toxics are released to the air—benzene,
toluene, chloroform, PCE, methylene chloride, nickel. A major fire August 6,
2012 was caused by old corroded pipes; over 15,000 people sought hospital
treatment due to the fire.
Site 13—North American Packaging Corp./Rheem
Plant: tin plating, zinc release, hydrocarbon thinner, lead
Site 14: Bray Oil, 801 Wharf Street
Bulk oil terminal—Solvents in groundwater.
Site 15: Reaction Products, 850 Morton Ave.
2008 accidental toluene release; the state ordered a TCE and DCE
Site 15 (cont): Collins Ave & Morton Ave.—three additional locations
Dennison Eastman Corp. paper manufacturing, 3451 Collins Ave.: volatile organic compounds (PCE, TCE), PCP
Koppers polyester resin chemical plant, 3501 Collins Ave.: 0.9 million lb. toxics; 29,000 lb./yr total toxics
released to air
Witco Corporation, 850 Morton Ave., produced polymerization initiators for plastics and benzoyl peroxide
production from 1957 to 1990. Alkaline wastewater from the manufacturing processes was neutralized on site
and held in two unlined surface impoundments. 270 lb./yr. total toxics released to air
Site 16: Fass Metals, W. Gertrude Ave.
1,100 ppm PCBs in soil
Site 17: Allied/General Chemical, 525 Castro St.
Sulfuric (battery) acid manufacturing plant: 1993 fuming sulfuric acid release affected
more than 1,000 residents; 1.4 million pounds was stored on site at that time.
Site 18: United Heckathorn, 402 Wright Ave.
Pesticide storage: 12 ppm DDT from old Montose Chemical Corp. dock; 1500 cu.yd. of
soil was removed and Lauritzen Channel was dredged, but the mud in the channel is
still as contaminated as ever.
Site 19: 4 locations near Wright Ave. & S. Harbour Way (also United Heckathorn)
Widing/Arrow Transportation, 1030 Wright Ave. chemical tank truck terminal: phenol drum exploded,
launching it into the air July 1990
Virginia Plating, Harbour Way S. at Wright Ave.: metal plating solutions
Richmond Plating, 738 S. Harbour Way: electroplating shop: lead, chromium, cadmium, copper, TCA, TCE
released to air and groundwater. It smelled like bitter almonds (the odor of hydrogen cyanide) inside the
shop. The District Attorney’s team caught its owner Mel Hughes dumping plating solution wastes down
the toilet. Hughes fled the state. The VOC plume was still being cleaned up in 2009-12
Benzyl Products/Bio-Rad, 803 Wright Ave.: organic chemical manufacturer
Site 19 (cont.) Widing/Arrow Transportation,
1030 Wright Ave.
See previous slide for details
Site 20: Electro-forming, 130 Nevin Ave.
Electroplating shop: cyanide and metals used and stored on site. In the
1980s, its permit to discharge wastewater was suspended; nitric acid cloud
was released in 1992; in 1994 children playing in an unlocked shed nearby
found the company’s plating chemicals stored illegally; the building itself is a
former PG&E substation with PCBs in soil
Site 21: BNSF Railway yard between Castro St. &
An underground lake of diesel in soil and groundwater from spilled engine fueling;
diesel from its catchment overwhelmed the municipal wastewater treatment plant
Site 22: Marwais (Pinole Point) Steel,
1 Barrett Ave.
9-10 million lb. toxics stored on site (1 million lb. zinc) at peak, 9,000 lb/year
toxics released to air
Site 23: Puritan Bennett, 7th
& Hensley St.
Gas manufacturer; nitrous oxide caused plant to explode in the 1980s
Site 24: Drew Sales, 1156 Castro Street
Lead, nickel, copper, zinc, and asbestos in soil
Site 25: H&H Recycling, 910 Sanford Ave.
Waste vegetable oil refiner; nickel and benzene soil contamination on site
Site 26: Certain Teed, Inc. , 1014 Chesley Ave.
Roofing manufacturer; one day they dumped all lab chemicals down the drain
Site 27: BNSF property near Rumrill & Market
Drums removed with 40 ppm pesticides, 99 ppm zinc, 28 ppm lead, and 2 ppm PCBs; also PAHs,
hydrocarbons, dieldrin, PCBs, and lead in soil
Site 28: John Armitage, 1800 7th
St. (at Market)
Paints and coatings manufacturer; hazardous waste.
Site 29: W. Gertrude junkyards.
Lead, copper, zinc in soil.
Site 30: Battery Point, end of Rydin Rd.
Point Isabel battery graveyard full of lead, mobilized by sulfuric (battery)
acid (pile of dirt has been removed for Bay Trail)
Site 31: PG&E Service yard, 3401 Regatta
Suspected source of PCBs spread throughout the area
Site 32: Pacific Hard Chrome,
& Montgomery Sts.
Air emissions of chromium +6; chromium +6 groundwater plume under Harbor
Front Businesses; owner Duane Germen died of chromium caused cancer like
residents of Hinckley, CA as depicted in the film “Erin Brockovich”
Site 33: Bio-Rad, 3110 Regatta Blvd.
Resin manufacturer,; the Air Board order forced the company to switch away from using chloroform as
its main solvent because of new hazardous air pollutant laws; a chloroform and methylene chloride
plume under the plant reaches to Meeker Slough; settled for penalty after admitting discharge of
hazardous materials to sanitary sewer
Site 34: J.S. Marten, Regatta Blvd, and Marina Bay
J.S. Marten, wheelabrating: pewter (contains lead and copper) wastes.
Marina Bay--World War II era shipyards (including what are now residences): lead (paint) and
Stoddard solvent remain on site.
Site 35: Union Carbide, 1215 S. Harbour Way,
Bulk chemical terminal--groundwater contained up to 125,000 ppm methyl (wood) alcohol, 53,000
ppm butyl cellosolve, 10,700 ppm MEK, 7,000 ppm MIBK, 4,400 ppm isophorone, 230 ppm 1,2- DCA.
Site 36: PVO/California Oils, 1145 Harbour Way S.
Vegetable oil refiner--phenols, nickel, and acid contamination on site and in sewer
Site 37: 5 locations along Cutting Blvd.
Texaco and Time Oil/Shore Terminals, 100 Cutting Blvd. bulk oil storage: 420 lb./yr. hydrocarbons released to air in
Cal Coast Marine boatyard, 310 W. Cutting Blvd.: 21,000 ppm copper, 1,100 ppm zinc, and 750 ppm lead in
Richmond Boatworks boatyard, 320 W. Cutting Blvd.: copper, zinc, and lead in sandblast wastes
Sanford and Wood boatyard, 530 W. Cutting Blvd.: 34,000 ppm copper, 2,500 ppm zinc, and 980 ppm lead in
Airco/Air Liquide gas manufacturer, 731 W. Cutting Blvd.: 160,000 lb/yr toxics released to air; on occasion, releases
to storm sewer turned Santa Fe Channel Channel pink with permanganate
Site 37 (cont.): Airco/Air Liquide, 731 Cutting Blvd.
See previous slide.
Site 38: Veriflo & Kensington Laboratories
Veriflo, 250 Canal Blvd.: heavy metal plating solutions
Kensington Laboratories, 750 National Ct.: heavy metal plating solutions
Site 39: Four Canal Blvd. Locations
GATX/Unitank, 1140 Canal Blvd.: bulk oil terminal: 3,000 lb/yr toxics released to air
Unocal, 1148 Canal Blvd.: bulk oil terminal: jet fuel leak in 1989 earthquake posed explosive hazard; 610
lb/yr benzene released to air
Arco, 1306 Canal Blvd.: bulk oil terminal: 4 million lb. toxics; 1000 lb/yr benzene released to air
World War II era shipyards (such as residences renamed Seacliff Marina off 1312 Canal Blvd.): lead,
mercury, asbestos in soil
Site 40: Badger Meter, 1001 W. Cutting Blvd.
Instrument manufacturer—cyanide, copper, and lead discharged into
Site 41: Petromark, Brickyard Cove & S. Dornan Drive
Bulk storage terminal--a shipping terminal for huge quantities of liquids, sometimes
next to a port, but usually with pipelines, railroads & roads.]
Site 42: Point Molate Naval Fuel Depot
Bulk storage terminal with bulk tanks--cylindrical industrial tanks with up to a million
gallons used for storing products, usually petroleum products.
Site 43: Apogee Chemical, 525 De Carlo Ave.
Manufacturer, lead in soil and TCE, DCE and vinyl chloride in groundwater
Site 44: Myers Drum plant, 900 Brookside Dr.
1,000 lb toxics stored; 81,000 lb/year toxics released to the air
Site 45: West County Sanitary Landfill, 1 Parr Blvd
A lot of the wastes generated at the sites above ended up in this Class I
(hazardous waste) disposal facility
Site 46: Three sites on Parr Blvd.
Erickson, Inc., 255 Parr Blvd., hazardous waste transfer facility
Agra Foundation, 155 Parr Blvd.: 240 ppm lead and 55 ppm naphthalene in soil
American Refining/Broadline, 81 Parr Blvd., cyanide plating baths removed silver from film:
2,500 ppm cyanide and 340 ppm lead in soil
Site 47: FMC, 855 Parr Blvd
Pesticide manufacturer: pesticides in soil and groundwater; copper,
mercury, chromium, lead, and zinc in soil
Site 48: Two locations on Goodrick Ave.
Curoco, 2775 Goodrick Ave. Equipment repair: 28127100 ppm copper in soil
MatlackriteSol, 2570 Goodrick Ave.: Chemical tank truck terminal
Site 49: Four locations on Giant Highway (all close to the marker)
Brulin chemical plant, 2775 Giant Hwy.: 0.5 million lb. toxics stored (2,500 lb. phenol, 6,400 gal methylene
chloride, and 2,500 gal TCA)
Cooper Chemical plant, 2801 Giant Hwy.: PCBs, benzene, toluene, TCE, TCA, arsenic, copper, chromium,
lead, zinc in soil and groundwater
East Bay Washrack, 2812 Giant Hwy.: VOCs in groundwater, lead in soil
American Standard Products toilet manufacturer, 3002 Giant Hwy.: 83,000 lb lead in soil and groundwater
Site 50: Pinole Point Steel, 5000 Giant Highway
Metal coater, toxic metals stored on site
Site 51: Hensley Street, two locations
Chevron Chemical, 940 Hensley St.--Thicarbamate and orthophospahte pesticide manufacturer; in 1994 it was
1 of only 3 hazardous waste incinerators operating in California; 8 million lb. toxics stored (6.6 million lb.
pesticides, 57,000 gal toluene, 9,800 lb methylene chloride; 85,000 lb/year toxics released to air before being
dismantled; arsenic and mercury remained in groundwater and soil, contaminating rainwater (now a parking
Industrial Strength, 1065 Hensley Street—heavy metal plating solutions (now part of Richmond Parkway)
Amot Controls, 401 - 1st
Street—Instrument manufacturer; soil and groundwater contain PCE,
TCE, carbon tetrachloride, 1,2-DCE, 1,1-DCE (now a parking lot)
Bill’s Radiator repair shop, 23rd
Street at Grant Ave.—Bill Delguidice served time in jail for illegal
disposal of hazardous lead wastes into a dumpster that oozed down the gutter on
St. (near Grant Elementary School)
Walter Tamley Associates, 1023 Factory Street—Battery reconditioning; lead in soil. (now a
UPS, 1601 Atlas Rd., trucking terminal
PreFinish Metals, 2995 Atlas Rd.
Cooper Drum, 2200 Central Ave. drum reconditioning
Budway, 1015 Chesley Ave. trucking terminal
East Bay Brass Foundry, 1200 Chesley Ave. (lead)
Richmond Machine Engineering Co./ Atlas Foundry & Mfg., 3701 Collins Ave. machining/foundry
Colloids California Div., 350 Freethy Blvd. specialty chemicals, e.g. vinyl chloride
Luckicup, 1850 Garden Tract Rd. plastic mfg
Urban Resource Recycling Yard, 1880 Garden Tract Rd. junkyard
Deal Auto & Truck Wrecking, 400 W. Gertrude Ave. junkyard
Davis Metal Products, 2280 Giant Hwy. metal fabrication
Jack Parker Trucking, 2666 Giant Hwy. trucking terminal
Richmond Machine & Fabricating (Cooper Chemical), 2801 Giant Hwy. machining
Liquid Gold hazardous waste storage site, south of I-580 east of Bayview exit. Toluene, nickel in groundwater,
PCBs,phenol, lead, zinc, copper, chromium, nickel, volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
Safeway distribution center, 905 S. 30th
Street (note: this address appears to be incorrect)
Anhydrous ammonia refrigeration posed an acute hazardous release threat at one time; a 1980 fire caused a 3-
day cloud including ammonia
Street railroad shop, east of Marina Way S. between Wright Ave. and Regatta Blvd.: lead in soil
Miles Tank Lines, Hall Ave. near S. Harbour Way, chemical truck terminal
East Bay Washrack (Jack Parker Trucking), 2832 Giant Hwy. truck wash
Georgia Pacific, 2502 Goodrick Ave.
Solid waste transfer station, 2565 Goodrick Ave.
Graham Packaging (Sonoco), 2600 Goodrick Ave. fiber drums and plastic bottles mfg
Rose/Big Sky, 2701 Goodrick Ave. drum reconditioning
Eng Bros. Metal & Wood, 2707 Goodrick Ave.
8-Ball Line Trucking, 2717 Goodrick Ave. trucking terminal
Former lumber company, 2781 Goodrick Ave.
Tinsley Labs, Inc., 3900 Lakeside Dr., optical equipment mfg, metal plating
Matrix, 4050 Lakeside Dr.
Stauffer Chemical, 525 Maas Ave., phosphoric acid mfg
Gibson-Homans Co., 810 Market Ave., caulk, glaze, seals mfg.
Pik ‘n’ Pull, 1015 Market Ave. junkyard
Rich-Tex, Inc., 777 Market Ave. dry wall mfg.
A&D Auto Wreckers, 11 Parr Blvd. junkyard
Carlos Auto Wreckers, 51 Parr Blvd. junkyard
Broadline Corp., 81 Parr Blvd. steel fabrication
AMT Metals, 211 Parr Blvd. steel fabrication
Wiegmann & Rose, 215 or 251 Parr Blvd. machine shop
RD Miners, 401 Parr Blvd.
306/Richmond (Laidlaw Transit), 436 Parr Blvd. bus yard
Bay Cities Crane, 457 Parr Blvd.
Crown Cork & Seal, 601 Parr Blvd.
Central Processing Facility, 101 Pittsburg Ave.
Radiant Color, 2800 Radiant Ave.
Go Battery, 1441 Rumrill Bvd., battery assembly
Berlex, 15049 San Pablo Ave. pharmaceutical mfg.
Noll Mfg., 1900 7th
St. sheet metal mfg.
R&K Industrial Products Co., 1945 N. 7th
St. industrial wheel mfg.
Onyx Pharmaceuticals, 3031 Research Dr.
Some Resources for Toxics in Richmond:
• Austin, D.S., Epidemiological Study of the Incidence of Cancer as Related to Industrial
Emissions in Contra Costa County, CA DHS, Nov., 1982
• Kaldor, J., et al, Statistical Association Between Cancer Incidents and Mortality, and
Estimated Residential Exposure to Air Emissions and Chemical Plants, Journal of
Environmental Health Perspectives, 54: 319-32 (1984)
• Clark, H., Thomas, A., & Wilmsen, C., Fighting Toxic Emissions in Richmond, California, 1984-
2000, Nabu Press (2003)
• Contra Costa County Hazardous Materials Program and Ombudsman
• West County Toxics Coalition
• Richmond Southeast Shoreline Area Community Advisory Group
Glossary: The A B C s of Toxics
• Amide: class of chemicals that includes some powerful pesticides
• Anhydrous ammonia: gas that burns lungs, eyes, nasal membranes and
sucks up all moisture it comes in contact with in the body
• Arsenic: extremely poisonous, can cause cancer
• Asbestos: building material that causes cancer in the lining of the lungs
• Baykeeper: non-profit organization headed by a Baykeeper (person); they
hunt for discharges in the Bay and sue polluters
• Benzene: A VOC proven to cause human leukemia, disrupted production
of blood cells, damage to immune system responses, genetic damage;
target organ, bone marrow
• Benzoyl peroxide: irritant to nose, skin and eyes; potentially explosive
• Beryllium: very toxic metal; attacks immune system; can cause
• Butyl cellusolve: attacks liver and kidneys, possibly causes cancer
• Cadmium: attacks kidneys and immune, reproductive and nervous
• Carbon disulfide: solvent, life threatening to heart and nervous system
• Carbon tetrachloride: A VOC linked to cancer, kidney/liver damage,
nervous system damage, potential reproductive toxicity
• Chlordane: banned pesticide can cause migraines, anxiety, depression,
diabetes, respiratory disease, cancer of the testicles
• Chlorinated pesticide: class of banned pesticides such as DDT, chlordane
• Chlorobenzene: A VOC that can attack liver and kidneys
• Chloroform: A VOC linked to cancer, kidney/liver damage, central nervous
system depression, potential reproductive toxicity
• Chloropyrrolidinone: class of pesticides
• Chromium: heavy metal; its +6 form can cause cancer, as a Hinckley, CA
(see “Erin Brockovich”)
• Copper: heavy metal can cause metal fever
• Cyanide: deadly poison
• DCA (Dichloroethane): A VOC linked to stomach, lung, breast cancer, plus
liver, kidney, lung, and nervous system damage
• DCE (Dichloroethylene): A VOC linked to liver toxicity and reduced red
• DDD: toxic breakdown product of DDT
• DDE: toxic breakdown product of DDT
• DDT: A pesticide that, like its breakdown products (DDD and DDE), is
linked to nervous system, liver, kidney damage
• Dieldrin: A pesticide linked, like its cousin aldrin, to nervous system and
• Dithiocarbamate: class of toxic pesticides including metam sodium (the
chemical in the Dunsmuir spill in the 1980s)
• Ethylbenzene: A VOC linked possibly to cancer, kidney/liver damage, long-
term damage to nervous system
• Heavy metal: cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, mercury, nickel,
uranium, zinc, etc.
• Hydrocarbon: class of fuels/solvents such as benzene, toluene,
• Isophorone: solvent, irritant to eyes, nose, throat; possibly can cause
• Lead: terribly toxic; attacks nervous system, development of fetus and
• MEK (Methyl ethyl ketone): A VOC linked to nervous system damage
• Mercury: terribly toxic; attacks brain, development of fetus and children
• Methylene chloride: A VOC linked to cancer, kidney/liver damage,
nervous system damage
• MIBK (Methyl isobutyl ketone): A VOC linked to liver and kidney damage
• Naphthalene: the VOC in mothballs; destroys red blood cells; possibly
• Nickel: attacks nose, voice box, lungs; can cause cancer and reproductive
• Orthophosphate pesticide: class of pesticides that includes nerve gas
• PAHs (poly aromatic hydrocarbons): some of this class of hydrocarbons
cause cancer even at really low concentrations
• PCBs (Polychlorinated biphenyls): A nonflammable fluid linked to cancer,
plus immune, nervous, endocrine, and reproductive system damage even
at really low concentrations
• PCE (Perchloroethylene): The dry cleaners’ VOC, linked to cancer, liver
damage, potential reproductive toxicity
• PCP (pentachlorophenol): toxic wood preservative; possibly causes cancer
• Permanganate: strong oxidizer chemical; eye and skin irritant
• Phenol: burns skin and can absorb through skin, attack immune system,
cause liver and kidney damage, heart disease, and possibly lung cancer
• Ppm (parts per million): 1 drop in 240 drums, with 55 gallons in each
• Stoddard solvent: can cause dizziness, irritate eye, skin and throat, and
attack the nervous system
• TCA (Trichloroethane): A VOC that affects liver, breathing passages, and
• TCE (Trichloroethylene): A VOC linked to cancer, kidney/liver damage,
nervous system depression, potential reproductive toxicity
• Thiocarbamate: class of pesticides that can interfere with development
and damage nervous and reproductive systems
• Thio phosphate: class of pesticides
• Toluene: A VOC linked to kidney/liver damage, fetal damage
• Uranium: Radioactive metal, possibly can cause lung cancer
• Vinyl chloride: A VOC linked to finger bone deterioration, reduction in
blood flow to fingers and toes, nervous and reproduction system damage,
proved to cause human liver cancer.
• VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds): Includes benzene, carbon
tetrachloride, chloroform, DCA, DCE, ethylbenzene, methylene chloride,
PCE, TCA, TCE, toluene, vinyl chloride, xylenes, etc.
• Xylenes: A VOC possibly linked to kidney damage, fetal damage
• Zinc: metal that can damage pancreas and lead to heart disease
About the author, acknowledgements
The author, Steve Linsley, began working as an environmental scientist in Richmond in
1979. He has been a member of the Point Molate Restoration Advisory Board,
West County Toxics Coalition, Richmond Southeast Shoreline Area Community
Advisory Group, Contra Costa Hazardous Materials Commission, and West Contra
Costa Group of the Sierra Club.
I wish to acknowledge fellow Richmond Toxic Tour leaders Phil Maynard, Dr. Henry
Clark, Michael Herz, and Dr. Wendell Brunner.
Photos from google maps, google earth, Jack Lucero Fleck, and Rose Stamm; Cover
photo by Drew Dellinger—www.drewdellinger.com
--Steve Linsley, July, 2013