Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Never mind the butcher and baker: Beware of the Candlestick Maker!

The Packard plant seems to be the Hot Topic of abandoned Detroit right now. I spent some time years ago shooting for a couple of different magazines the destruction of the Packard plant. I've crawled many of the floors, halls, staircases, rooftops and ladders within to get shots.

Recently it came to my attention that other Photographers have decided to get "crafty" on Etsy with their findings within the Packard Plant, when they should have just stuck to taking pictures…

Above is a screen shot of one of the listings for block flooring being used for a rustic, cutesy, kitschy candlestick holder. What isn't contained in the description of the block holders is what toxics reside within.

Skinny jean kids out there think they may know it all, but obviously don't do their chemical research before drilling into these and exposing themselves and their buyers to 'death on a stick'

I took the time to write anyone I could find who's making/selling these this proper note. And if they do not heed my warning, I'll be talking with Etsy about their practices!

"To Whom it may concern: Yourself, as well as your consumers!

I writing under the assumption that you are unaware of the contents of the blocks you are removing from the Packard Plant. This is very unsettling for me to see listed for sale (especially as candlestick holders!) and I’m taking the time to write in hopes that you will heed my warning and removing the listings for your candle stick holders.

The wood block flooring within the Packard Plant, as well as many other buildings of this nature around Detroit had a very specific purpose within the plant. Besides being a cheap flooring with properties for sound deadening and foot comfort over standing on hard concrete, it was also employed for it’s chemical soaking abilities.

The reason why the blocks still exist in decent shape to this day is because the wood that was used was treated with multiple chemicals to keep the wood from rotting or from being consumed by ants/termites. Because of the age of this building I will assume the worst types of chemicals where being used to protect the wood which is lead and arsenic. When it was discovered that these where harmful to many people exposed to these chemicals, many manufactures switched to Creosote, which has also been deemed to be harmful to humans.

On top of the chemicals that where used to make sure the blocks didn’t rot, the areas where these where used in the plant where more-less chemical spill areas on the lines. The blocks where used to sop up dangerous chemicals being used on the lines including oil, gasoline, lead body filler, solvents, etc.

The EPA has deemed these chemicals to fall into one of two categories: (VOCs and SVOCs) Volatile and Semi-volatile Organic Compounds. These floorings within the plant where regularly shucked and where discarded back during production when they had been used up. Obviously, since the doors where closed and production stopped, no one has come to discard these as they need to be properly handled.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reclassified certain wood-preserving chemicals--creosote, pentachloropophenol and inorganic arsenicals--as restricted use pesticide materials. The designation means they are toxic or poisonous and potentially hazardous to humans and animals. Consequently, the public should be aware of the precautions for using wood treated with these chemicals.

Frequent or prolonged skin contact with pentachloropehnol or creosote treated wood should be avoided. Handlers of inorganic arsenical treated wood can be affected by arsenic absorption through human skin.

Sawdust from treated wood tends to become airborne with resultant human exposure by inhalation, swallowing and widespread dermal contact. To reduce the potential for exposure, the EPA recommends that individuals sawing pesticide treated wood in their occupation should wear disposable coveralls, made of a material such as nitrile or polyethylene, or similar protective clothing. Homeowners with occasional exposure should wear tightly woven long-sleeved cotton overalls, if they do not have disposable coveralls.

The EPA further continues to dissuade people from burning chemically treated woods: Do not burn wood in open fires or in stoves, fireplaces, or residential boilers because toxic chemicals may be produced as part of the smoke and ashes. By making these blocks into candlestick holders, you are directly contaminating your buyers potentially from the chemicals that can be produced in the air. Likewise, when you where handling/drilling these blocks you have affected yourself and others in the surrounding area to toxic chemicals. The following are potential hazards associated with VOCs and SVOCs:

Health Effects related to Volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds (VOCs and SVOCs): Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Cancer, Birth or developmental effects, Brain and nervous system, Reproduction and fertility, Immune system (including sensitization and allergies)

I’m leaving you with this so you know as well as your consumers. If you have sold any of these blocks, I implore you to either get them back or refund the money and explain how your consumer should discard them. I also recommend removing these items from etsy or the like where you may be selling them.

If you continue to have these up for sale on etsy I feel it is my duty to report the dangers to etsy before more sales can happen and the consumers could be affected by the toxics that can be released.

This is really only the tip of the iceburg of toxics that are in and around the Packard plant. The entire plant is laden with Asbestos. Take your time to do some reading and research the items before selling them.

Thanks for your time.

Sincerely, Keven"