Toxic Gas Levels In Louisiana Air Exceed EPA Safety Standards: US Study

by | Jun 12, 2024 | Environmental News, Pollution News

Home » Environmental News » Toxic Gas Levels In Louisiana Air Exceed EPA Safety Standards: US Study

A recent study has found alarming toxic gas levels in southeastern Louisiana air. The gas ethylene oxide (EtO), primarily emitted by petrochemical manufacturing, is present at levels a thousand times higher than what is deemed safe by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This region, known for its high density of petrochemical facilities, faces severe health risks due to these emissions.

Toxic Gas Levels in Louisiana Air

Unexpectedly High Levels Detected

Researchers from Johns Hopkins University led the study. They expected to find EtO in the area but were shocked by the levels they measured. “We expected to see ethylene oxide in this area,” said study leader Peter DeCarlo. “But we didn’t expect the levels that we saw, and they certainly were much, much higher than EPA estimates.

The EPA’s traditional monitoring methods, which involve collecting air samples and analyzing them in a lab, have limitations. DeCarlo explained that these methods are not precise because EtO concentrations change over time. The air analyzed in the lab can differ from the air originally collected.

In February 2023, the researchers used a cutting-edge mobile air-testing lab. This lab allowed them to measure EtO levels on-site directly. Their findings showed EtO levels reaching 40 parts per billion near industrial facilities. This is more than a thousand times higher than the accepted risk for lifetime exposure, which starts at 11 parts per trillion.

Health Risks and Affected Areas

The study’s findings are alarming. “I don’t think there’s any census tract in the area that wasn’t at higher risk for cancer than we would deem acceptable,” DeCarlo said. Long-term exposure to EtO has been linked to cancer. People living near EtO manufacturing facilities or working with gas are at higher risk. The study found levels of EtO up to six miles (10 kilometers) downwind from factories.

One notable hotspot is near a public school in Gonzales, Louisiana. This school is just five miles (eight kilometers) from the center of an industrial hotspot, putting students and staff at potential risk.

EPA Response and Future Actions

The EPA has acknowledged the study and said it would review the findings. The agency stated that it has already taken steps to reduce pollution in southeastern Louisiana, an area often referred to as “Cancer Alley” due to its higher cancer rates. These steps include setting new standards for chemical manufacturing and conducting further research into EtO sources.

Despite these efforts, the study underscores the need for more precise monitoring and stricter regulations to protect public health. The toxic gas levels in Louisiana air highlight a significant public health issue that requires immediate attention and action.

Also Read: Frightening But Timid Joro Spiders Invade US Gardens And Parking Lots


  • Sarah Tancredi

    Sarah Tancredi is an experienced journalist and news reporter specializing in environmental and climate crisis issues. With a deep passion for the planet and a commitment to raising awareness about pressing environmental challenges, Sarah has dedicated her career to informing the public and promoting sustainable solutions. She strives to inspire individuals, communities, and policymakers to take action to safeguard our planet for future generations.

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