Toxic Ethylene Oxide Has Been Found in Smyrna and Covington.
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A recent investigation by the Georgia Health News reveals a high concentration of Ethylene Oxide in the Smyrna and Covington, Georgia areas. Ethylene Oxide (or EtO) is a human carcinogen that has been shown to cause cancers of the white blood cells, including non-Hodgkin lymphoma, myeloma, and lymphocytic leukemia, and tumors.
The Georgia Environmental Protection Division shows that releases in both the Covington and Smyrna areas exceed the state's Acceptable Area Concentration (AAC) levels—the state's determined levels of a chemical at which health risks begin to arise. In Smyrna, the state estimates ethylene oxide emissions are 27 to 61 times higher than the AAC. In Covington, concentrations of ethylene oxide in neighborhoods around the plant range from 17 to 97 times the AAC.
The alleged sources of the EtO contamination are the Sterigenics facility in Smyrna and the BD Bard facility in Covington. Both facilities use ethylene oxide to sterilize medical equipment and supplies. When these facilities use EtO, some of the gas is released into the air and into the surrounding communities.
If you live or work in Smyrna or Covington, Georgia, toxic Ethylene Oxide pollution may adversely affect your health and property value. Contact us for a free case consultation.
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Can Ethylene Oxide Cause Cancer?
Which Cancers Are Associated With
Ethylene Oxide Exposure?
The types of cancer that can be associated with long-term exposure to ethylene oxide include:
- Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkins lymphoma;
- Llymphohematopoietic cancers;
- Hematopoietic cancers
- Lymphocytic leukemia
- Pediatric lymphoma;
- Breast cancer;
- Prostate cancer;
- Pancreatic cancer;
- Ovarian cancer;
- Bladder cancer;
- Myeloma; and
- Brain, lung, or uterine tumors.
Where Has Ethylene Oxide Been Detected in Smyrna and Covington?
The Georgia Environmental Protection Division has created a model of Ethylene Oxide emissions from the Sterigenics and the BD Bard plants and the potential cancer risks to residents. Individuals within the colored zones, below, are potentially at an increased risk of cancer.
Sterigenics in Smyrna, GA
The EPA published self-reported emission data from Sterigenics. While Sterigenics claims that its emissions were previously only 200 pounds, that has only been true for the year 2016. Between 2002 and 2015, Sterigenics has emitted on average 2,500 pounds of Ethylene Oxide into the community and as much as 15,000 pounds in 1998.
BD Bard in Covington, GA
The EPA also published self-reported emission data from the BD Bard facility. BD Bard has historically emitted Ethylene Oxide in excess of 5,000 pounds annually and as high as 20,000 pounds in 2003.
Recognizing Ethylene Oxide Exposure
Short term inhalation of high concentrations of EtO can cause headache, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, respiratory irritation (e.g., coughing, shortness of breath, wheezing) and, in some cases, vomiting and other types of gastrointestinal distress.
The greatest risk is for people who live, have lived, or work near a facility releasing EtO into the air. Long-term exposure to Ethylene Oxide increases the risk of cancers of the white blood cells, including non-Hodgkin lymphoma, myeloma, and lymphocytic leukemia. Furthermore, brain tumors and lung tumors are among the types of tumors observed in individuals exposed to EtO. Studies also show that long-term exposure to Ethylene Oxide increases the risk of breast cancer in females.
Additionally, high concentrations of EtO can cause an increased rate of miscarriages among females. Animal studies have shown that breathing Ethylene Oxide at high levels can interfere with their ability to reproduce and has caused developmental issues in their offsprings.