What chemicals were in the blue paint that filled the Orange River

Reporter: Elizabeth Biro
Published: Updated:

Getting to the bottom of what is inside the paint that filled the Orange River near homes in Buckingham. Blue paint spread all the way across the water in the Orange River.

Crews from the Lee County Department of Transportation say the paint accidentally got into the water during routine maintenance.

The consequences of the accident left blue paint covering the leg of a grasshopper living by the river and more blue paint wrapped around branches and twigs.

There are toxins in the paint. You don’t need to be a scientist to know about the toxins. Nevertheless, to gain better insight into what was in the paint, WINK News did.

WINK News took the paint samples to a Florida Gulf Coast University lab and reviewed the results.

Lee County says paint overspray from the wind caused the mess of blue paint floating in the Orange River.

Kelly Grey, who lives on Orange River, took a video on Tuesday afternoon showcasing the messy display.

“It looked like lily pads, very toxic lily pads,” said Grey.

Blue paint on a twig near the river. CREDIT: WINK News

When WINK News met up with Grey on Wednesday, crews were cleaning but there was still paint in the water, on the river’s edge, on the plants and on animals.

WINK News and neighbors collected samples before taking them to an FGCU lab.

Associate professor of biology Dr. Nora Demers didn’t know the extent of the risk from the paint on the water until discovering what paint Lee County DOT used.

While with Demers, we got answers.

“Safety Blue High-Performance Protective Enamel. To protect the steel,” said Dr. Demers.

Rust-oleum brand paint. It protects the infrastructure from rusting.

“Dr. Demers said every chemical product has to have a safety data sheet.

“The carcinogenicity is category two. So it’s suspected of cancer-causing possible hazards 5% of the mixture consists of ingredients of unknown acute toxicity,” said Dr. Demers.

Then saw the results from the more specific ingredients.

“Titanium dioxide xylenes I would worry about those are long-chained chemic carbon-based chemicals,” said Dr. Demers.

You don’t need to be a scientist to guess these products have chemicals that aren’t good for humans, animals or the environment as a whole.

Dr. Demers said if there was that much overspray, he said they should have stopped.

“Certainly, there is a level of be careful. And the more careful we are, the more likely we are we’re not going to get into a situation,” said Dr. Demers.

Lee County said the dried overspray was removed from the water and any vegetation affected was removed.

You can imagine there are still traces of the paint in the system. Dr. Demers candidly shares there are a lot of things we’re putting in the environment that end up in our drinking water.

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