EPA: EtO emissions put North Charleston area at ‘level of concern’ cancer risk

Published: Oct. 10, 2022 at 9:03 PM EDT
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KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) - The EPA has revealed new data about ethylene oxide (EtO) emissions in our region.

According to the study, the North Charleston area of Kanawha County has one of the highest cancer risks from ethylene oxide emissions in the country.

The previous data, from a 2017 study, showed a lower emission rate and put areas around the county’s Union Carbide plants below the hotspot level.

The new study, from 2018, has West Virginia as one of the highest cancer risk locations in the country, ranking in it #21 on the list over over seventy-five thousand areas that may have exposure to EtO.

“Where it puts it - is at a level of concern. A national level assessment makes a lot of assumptions - sometimes conservative assumptions. We like to take a more localized approach and more refined approach to better understand emissions, better understand risk, and then based on the results of that closer look, decide what type of state or federal regulatory action might be appropriate to reduce those emissions and protect the neighboring communities,” Mike Koerber, from the EPA Office of Air Quality, said.

The more recent studies have used a new technology called AirToxScreen. The EPA hopes to have 2019′s data released by the end of 2022. From there, they hope to have following yearly results available every few months.

Koerber highlighted the EPA’s mission, saying, “What I would say is that we are concerned about the longer term exposure and that it the problem we are focused on here. That’s why it’s so important that EPA moves as quickly as it can to update, to strengthen its regulations to get these emissions down as soon as we can.”

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection released numbers from monitoring samples and said more information on those samples will be available in a final report expected to be out by early 2023.

For our previous coverage of this story, click here.