RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ) says the mysterious substances found dumped in various sites in Richmond and Henrico County are not believed to be hazardous to human health.

VDEQ has been working with Richmond and Henrico’s fire departments to clean the sites and investigate the origins of the drums filled with “various substances.”

According to a statement from the department, the preliminary investigation into the substances suggests they are “not hazardous to human health.” The department still asks residents to avoid the sites as the investigation continues.

On Thursday, May 11, 8News reported several drums filled with various unknown substances illegally dumped off Texas Avenue in Richmond, as well as in eastern Henrico behind a shopping center on Williamsburg Road and off Pollock Street in the Highland Park neighborhood.

The substance is described as an oily, gelatinous material.

For Richmond resident James D’Antonio, he says problems like this are not uncommon in his neighborhood.

“Illegal dumping has been an issue since we moved in,” D’Antonio said. “It’s been slowly escalating, nothing really seems to be effective to get major development going as far as efficient communication between the neighborhood and the city.” 

On Thursday, a report by the VDEQ found that the barrels included cosmetic pigment, as well as ‘incroquat behenyl tms,’ ‘keralenis’ and “plantapon,” ingredients that are used in hair products, skin care and soap.

Even though the materials have now been found to be not dangerous, D’Antonio is still concerned that strange substance was in his community.

“If it’s not a dangerous material, perhaps just let us know, so that we’re not concerned about it, washing into our yards, washing into where people walk their animals, let their kids play,” D’Antonio said. “There is still much of the substance remaining in the alleyway. I think for something of this nature, very thorough job would have been well received.”

An ongoing investigation into the dumping is being conducted by VDEQ, the City of Richmond and Henrico County, but it is still a mystery where the barrels came from.

“Something bizarre has occurred, to allow for this to trickle down into our neighborhood,” D’Antonio said. “And I really am hoping that eventually, soon here, we have some understanding of how this precipitated and what is being done to prevent it from happening again.” 

Anyone with information related to the chemicals is asked to send an email to