top of page

Chemistry Ducts

“Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it." ― Albert Einstein

It is an honor to have the opportunity to work as equals with people who passed chemistry in college.

At the University of Texas when its only campus was the one in Austin, I actually took chemistry for a few days, in a classroom that must have seated 500 people. A classroom full of people who had had chemistry in high school and passed it.

It took only a couple classes for me to get that I was running on a deficit and dropped the class quick enough and met a science requirement for graduation at another institution.

In the last 2 days I have spent more time talking science with scientists than I ever sat through in that chemistry class all those years ago. And not once was I made to feel deficient , nor did those old feelings jostle back into focus during any single moment with any of them.

The choices we make as young people can hold us back but they don't have to. Believing in equity, doesn't limit me to Equal or Civil Rights, but allows me to also value my gained experience after living on this planet this long and makes interacting with people who bring their own specific educational training with them work as we settle in and have conversations on finding ways to tackle issues that rattle around as unsolved in this community.

It is easy to diminish one's self as not having "the" credentials that should deem one qualified, but our life experiences and those of people who have lived in a superfund site that is older than the majority of the residents living in this county gives us credibility. There are few research-based investigators who have that on their resumes, but we do.

Those choices we made as children, the places we played, the substances we remember putting in our mouths and the distinct taste that can be recalled, or the sound small pieces of chat made when swished back and forth inside a child's mouth with those baby teeth clinched tight. Bill Honker wrote a song in 2000 called Made to Last, though all of it is quotable, one line, "...the sons and daughters of the mines were raised on iron and lead"... that's you. This stuff of the mines came home with the miners, came home with your Daddy to fill the potholes in your driveway, filled our sandboxes and perhaps every ally in the county and certainly every dirt road you drove in the summer with the windows down.

There was a time period when some of the best houses in town were built with heating and air conditioning ducts in the floor and for whatever reason, the builders surrounded the ducts with loads of chat before pouring the concrete floors. As time has gone on, house by house have experienced issues. Only one family went public on the front page of the MNR.

No one wants to let it be known there is an issue that could diminish the value of their homes, even as it is diminishing the IQ of small children and perhaps causing long-term issues with most every organ of the bodies of the people living and breathing inside that house.

Why? When the chat that surrounds the metal ducts gets wet, the sulphur in chat forms a sulfuric acid and can eat through even stainless steel ducts and allow the chat and its fine particles to blow through the ducts.

But as you know, I am not a scientist. But all the ones I met with this week got to hear this story. Wouldn't that be a thing to bring up now with the present administration wanting to reduce lead poisoning and putting money toward getting that done. 7,000 postcards will show up in Miami mailboxes from DEQ reminding you to have your yard or gravel driveway checked for lead. Its free and if high levels are found, they will dig it up and replace it for you.

But what if the DEQ Hotline started getting calls about the dust coming out of your ducts? What if they got lots of calls? While the money is here. I would like every single house to have their indoor chat dealt with. That house years ago that went public, moved out; had a cement truck come and fill all their ducts with cement and at their own expense put their ductwork overhead. I think EPA should pay to do this work and protect everyone with this issue. Don't you?

And I didn't have to take chemistry to understand this.

Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim

5 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page