Air Pollution

Why does PERRO take issue with H. Kramer’s pollution?

PERRO has worked with the City, EPA, Alderman Daniel Solis’ office, and others, to seek reductions in toxic emissions from H. Kramer Co. 2002 EPA data from lists Kramer as in the top 10th percentile of facilities emitting certain pollutants and falling under Scorecard’s category of “Dirtiest/Worst Facilities in the U.S.” in terms of its cancer risk score. According to the EPA, H. Kramer emitted 1,200 pounds of lead in 2004, 3,400 pounds in 2003, and 3,800 pounds in 2002. Lead that is ingested is known to cause brain damage in children under six and disrupt prenatal development. There are 6,500 kids under age six in Pilsen. H. Kramer is located adjacent to a residential area, across the street from a school, and blocks away from a public park.

PERRO is concerned that the latest publicly available data shows that in 2003 Kramer’s total air emissions were 46,530 pounds. lists certain chemicals found in H. Kramer’s emissions as “suspected respiratory toxicants” that may contribute to breathing problems.

It is the second worst polluter in Pilsen, after Fisk Generating Station, the highest lead pollution point source in the city, and the 99th worst lead polluter in the nation, according to’s most recent data. The plant, which smelts brass ingots, is located directly adjacent to a residential area of Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood, across the street from a high school and only blocks from a public park. Neighbors report that emissions from the plant, which contain lead and zinc oxide, often have an irritating, metallic smell and taste, and have videotaped emissions spewing out from cracks in the building. PERRO believes that these emissions should be cleaner and better contained in order to protect the health of residents and the plant’s workers. We feel this an environmental justice issue because the 80-year-old plant, a remnant of Pilsen’s industrial legacy, is located in a largely working-class, Spanish-speaking area, and that this kind of pollution would not be allowed to continue in a more affluent neighborhood on Chicago’s north side.

The Chicago Departments of Environment and Public Health, and the Illinois and federal EPA investigated Kramer based on PERRO’s activities. Although their reports found a 60% reduction in lead emissions over the past year and spending on new equipment, PERRO remained concerned about the overall levels of air emissions listed above. Click here to read the reports.

The Chicago Department of Environment, in its report on H. Kramer dated July 1, 2005, claimed its fugitive emissions, or releases that are not controlled by the stacks, appeared to be under control and “do not pose a substantial threat to human health or the environment.” However, a recent inspection of the plant showed emissions being released from between the metal roof tiles. This ongoing problem of unfiltered emissions is a source of concern for nearby residents.