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Trinity American Corporation was founded in 1977, and their Glenola-based foam and fiber plant opened soon thereafter. Two hazardous chemicals are traditionally used in foam production: methylene chloride and toluene diisocyanate (TDI). Exposure to methylene chloride can cause dizziness, headaches, skin and eye irritation, breathing difficulties, and irregular heartbeats. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) classifies methylene chloride as a potential cancer-causing chemical. In 2003, after the events in this story, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned the use of methylene chloride in all flexible polyurethane foam fabrication facilities.

TDI is a severe irritant that affects the mucus membranes. Exposure can cause euphoria, muscle coordination and vision problems, asthma, and lung damage. TDI exposure can cause problems at very small doses because the chemical is so readily absorbed into the lungs and sensitivity increases after repeated exposures.


“We’d get this real strong odor. . . . It smelled like burning electrical wire and sewage mixed up together or something.”

– Community Member

“We knew something was wrong. You know, when we had this bad air day and your eyes start burning and you just feel bad.”

– Community Member


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