Researchers find higher levels of dangerous chemical than expected in southeast Louisiana – ET HealthWorld

Hammond: Researchers using high technology Air monitoring equipment Passed through the industrial area of ​​the southeast Louisiana Mobile laboratories testing for a cancer-causing substance found levels 10 times higher than previously estimated, according to a paper published Tuesday in the journal Nature. Environmental Science and TechnologyThe study, conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, raises new health concerns for communities that Chemical Plant Outlining a section of the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans—known as “Cancer Alleyby environmentalists.

The Environmental Protection Agency believes that long-term exposure to substances that enter the body through inhalation can cause ethylene oxide The gas poses a cancer risk – This stance has been challenged by the chemical industry. The state of California, which has its own environmental health agency, has also deemed the chemical to be “carcinogenic and a reproductive toxicity” in men and women.

The study also points to new technologies that could allow better and more accurate measurements of ethylene oxide and other chemicals.

“The instrumentation technology that we have available is much more sensitive and can be mounted on a van and operated in ways that aren’t possible with regulatory equipment,” said Pete DeCarlo, one of the study’s researchers.

Ethylene oxide is produced in large quantities and is used to make antifreeze and a key ingredient in polyester. It is also used to disinfect food, cosmetics, and medical equipment, and as an insecticide.

This report has come at a time when Biden administration Steps have been taken to protect people from exposure to the gas. Earlier this year, the EPA announced plans to limit the use of the chemical. Ethylene oxide was also mentioned in a sweeping order issued in April that required more than 200 plants across the country to reduce toxic emissions.

Traditionally, ethylene oxide measurements have been made by collecting air samples in stainless steel canisters and storing them for later laboratory analysis. The problem is that storage in the canisters changes the concentration of the gas, DeCarlo said.

Current regulatory data on ethylene oxide levels are based on samples self-reported by the industry. He said these numbers are “anywhere from two to 10 times lower than the values ​​measured by our mobile laboratory in Louisiana.”

The Johns Hopkins study involved two vans that drove the same route repeatedly over the course of a month last year. Researchers used equipment that measures gases in real time as they flow through high-intensity light. The vans used two different instruments, yet they measured similar results, giving researchers confidence in the test.

DeCarlo said nearly all of the readings were above 11 parts ethylene oxide in 1 trillion parts of air — a level that equates to a 1 in 10,000 risk of cancer from long-term exposure to the gas. That’s the upper limit the EPA considers acceptable for many air toxins and carcinogens.

Sometimes the levels were thousands of times higher — measured in parts per billion rather than parts per trillion. And, as another Johns Hopkins researcher, Kev Nachman, points out, ethylene oxide is just one of the pollutants emitted in the region.

“When you think about all the other chemicals that are at play and all the other concerns we might have about people living in Cancer Alley and the other life stressors they face, they may be less resilient to exposure to ethylene oxide than someone in the general population,” Nachman said. “So, you know, if you were to say what is a reasonable level or what should be an acceptable risk? It should probably be less than 1 in 10,000 people.”

Exposure to these levels poses little risk for most people, said Reed Rustin, a professor at Tulane University’s School of Public Health who was not involved in the study.

“My concern is for individuals at risk who are exposed throughout their lives, which is hard to estimate, but should be investigated further,” Rustin said.

The American Chemical Council has questioned “a deeply flawed” method of determining the toxicity of ethylene oxide.

Tuesday’s report is likely to intensify an ongoing political and legal battle over a string of chemical plants in small, often predominantly black communities between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

Amid such debates, DeCarlo said it’s important to improve the measurement of pollutants. There is very little high-quality measurement around industrial plants, he said, so it’s not well understood what residents are actually exposed to.

“We wanted to start doing a better job of assessing what the concentrations of those dangerous air pollutants are like for the communities that live in the surrounding areas.” industrial facilitiesHe said, “(AP) NPK NPK

  • Published on June 11, 2024 at 06:11 PM IST

Join a community of 2M+ industry professionals

Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest information and analysis.

Download ETHealthworld App

  • Get realtime updates
  • Save your favourite articles

icon g play - 2

icon app store - 4

Scan to download the app
health barcode - 6