WVDEP releases first round of testing for cancer-causing chemicals in Kanawha Valley

Published: Mar. 3, 2022 at 6:18 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) – The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection released its first round of testing for the cancer-causing chemical Ethylene Oxide (EtO) in the Kanawha Valley.

The agency released the information Thursday evening, saying less than 1 parts per billion (ppb) of EtO was found in the South Charleston and Institute areas of Kanawha County.

The WVDEP said the results are the first round of a four-part sampling plan.

WSAZ has aired a series of specials, WSAZ Investigates | Cancer-Causing Chemicals, after the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), reported that toxic, cancer-causing chemicals were being released into the air in the Kanawha Valley at one of the highest rates in the country.

According to Thursday’s release from the WVDEP, samples were collected by the WVDEP during a one 24-hour period on Jan. 25-26, 2022, using a U.S. EPA-approved method designed to monitor EtO. The WVDEP said it also sampled for EtO in Guthrie, West Virginia, “a location far away from any permitted source of EtO ”to help establish baseline levels for the chemical.”

“All sites monitored in this first round of sampling showed concentrations less than 1 ppb,” according to the WVDEP. “These concentrations are influenced by many factors, including wind and weather data, operations at the facilities, and background levels. This is why multiple rounds of sampling are being conducted.”

“It’s important to stress that this is just the first step in the process and these results need to be reviewed with those from the remaining rounds of sampling before we can make any determinations,” said WVDEP Cabinet Secretary Harold Ward said in the release.

The WVDEP said both it and the EPA will review all four rounds of sampling when they’re complete. It said a final report will be released “and will guide any future actions taken by the agency.”

The agency also said, “The U.S. EPA just released its new air toxics risk screening tool - AirToxScreen. This assessment estimates air toxics using emissions data from the most recent year of complete data available. This tool indicates that all census tracts in West Virginia are under the 100 in 1 million cancer risk level.”

To read the WVDEP’s full report, tap here.

To see previous coverage from the WSAZ Investigations, tap here.

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