TCE Strikes Again


Toxic Vapors a Problem at Wisconsin Apartment Complex

By: Nathan Lamb

An affordable housing facility at an old Wisconsin factory is coping with toxic fumes from the building’s industrial past, according to this story from the Appleton Post Crescent newspaper.

An underground ventilation system is the latest step to alleviate recently discovered trichloroethylene (TCE) fumes at the Wire Works Apartments in Appleton. Located beneath the building foundation, the system draws toxic fumes out of contaminated soil at the site and uses fans to discharge the fumes above the building’s roof.

A spokesperson from the Department of Natural Resources said the ventilation is to protect residents in the building’s 16 apartments from short-term exposure. Over 3,000 tons of contaminated soil has already been removed from the site, with more cleanup expected to come.

TCE is an industrial solvent that’s often used for degreasing, but it can also cause a variety of short- and long-term health problems.

Located at 601 E. Hancock Street, the Wire Works building was a factory from 1896-1987, and TCE was used to clean paper mill wires produced at the site.

The building was converted to affordable apartments by the Housing Partnership of the Fox Cities in 2005.

Appleton is located roughly 100 miles northwest of Milwaukee and has a population of approximately 73,000.

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