Toxic gas in SE Louisiana exceeds limit by 1000 times! Culprit: petrochemical plant.


Recent research has shown that in southeastern Louisiana, levels of the toxic gas ethylene oxide have been detected to exceed the standard by more than a thousand times. The primary source of this gas is the petrochemical industry.

According to a new study, the detected levels of the toxic gas ethylene oxide (EtO) in southeastern Louisiana are a thousand times higher than safety standards.

The emissions of ethylene oxide primarily come from the petrochemical manufacturing industry, and southeastern Louisiana has a large number of factories that use or produce petrochemical products.

“We expected to detect ethylene oxide in this region,” said Peter DeCarlo, the lead researcher from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. “However, we did not anticipate the levels to be this high, significantly exceeding the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates.”

The EPA’s estimates are based on traditional ethylene oxide monitoring methods, which involve collecting air samples and analyzing them in a laboratory, a method that is not precise enough, said DeCarlo.

He explained that because the concentration of ethylene oxide varies over time, the air in the laboratory collection containers may differ from the initially collected air.

In February 2023, researchers repeatedly traversed the industrial corridor in southeastern Louisiana, using an advanced mobile air testing laboratory to directly measure ethylene oxide levels on-site.

In a report published on Tuesday in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, the researchers noted that ethylene oxide is highly toxic, with hazardous levels of long-term exposure starting at eleven parts per trillion.

Near industrial facilities in southeastern Louisiana, ethylene oxide levels reached forty parts per billion, “exceeding the acceptable standard for lifetime exposure risk by over a thousand times,” said DeCarlo.

“I don't think there is a single census tract in the region where the cancer risk is below what we consider acceptable,” said DeCarlo.



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