Recently, a report from CNN has been revealed that the Denka Performance Elastomer chemical plant in LaPlace, Louisiana is releasing a chemical so toxic that the Environmental Protection Agency says nearby residents face the highest risk in the country of developing cancer from air toxicity.
While some places along the Mississippi River are dubbed "Louisiana Cancer Alley" because of the numerous industrial plants coinciding with high rates of cancer, this area in LaPlace is at it's heart. The Denka Performance Elastomer plant is the nation's only producer of neoprene, a synthetic rubber that is found in everything from gaskets and hoses to fishing waders and wetsuits. It also emits 99% of the nation's chloroprene pollution, according to the EPA.
In 2010, the EPA found that chloroprene is "likely carcinogenic to humans," and studies showed it likely causes cancer. In addition to possibly causing cancer, being chemically exposed to high doses of chloroprene over short and long term can cause a myriad of health effects. Direct inhalation
What is Chloroprene?
From the EPA website: Chloroprene is a chemical used in the production of neoprene. Neoprene has a variety of uses, such as in wetsuits, gaskets, hoses, and adhesives. Chloroprene is a colorless liquid, with an Ether-like odor. Chloroprene is classified as a likely carcinogen by several agencies, including EPA.
Is Chloroprene a Carcinogen (substance capable of causing cancer in living tissue)?
In 2010, the EPA identified chloroprene as a likely human carcinogen and provided a unit risk estimate. That means it is likely to cause cancer in any living tissue, especially humans. Airborne limits of chloroprene should be kept to the lowest limits possible, chemical exposure to your skin means you're overexposed and you should see a doctor as soon as possible.
Short Term Health Effects of Chloroprene
Short-term health effects of being exposed to high doses of chloroprene include:
- Neurological symptoms: Headaches, dizziness, insomnia
- Cardiovascular system: Rapid heartbeat, reduced blood pressure, low blood pressure
- Gastrointestinal disorders
- Skin Diseases: dermatitis, hair loss
- Pregnancy & Reproductive issues: low sperm count, high levels of dead sperm, decreases in fetal body weight
- Liver function abnormalities
Long Term Health Effects of Chloroprene for People
- Cancer: lung cancer (Adenocarcinoma), kidney cancer
- Increased risk of tumors in multiple organs
- Birth defects
- Fetal abnormalities
- Temporary hair loss on exposed body parts
Denka Plant Response to Citizen Concerns
Denka cloroepne rubber plant manager, Jorge Lavastida, said "there is no cancer risk". When asked if that means that the company believes chloroprene does not cause cancer, he said simply, "That is correct." This is contrary to the EPA and multiple chloroprene studies suggesting it does.
In January of 2017, the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), along with the EPA, issued an administrative order for Denka to install emissions-reduction devices by the end of the year. These new devices are expected to reduced the Denka plant's chloroprene emissions by 85%. Even with the installation of new chemical emissions devices, it will still fall short of reducing chloroprene emissions to .02 that is recommended by the EPA.
Have You or a Loved One Been Adversely Affected by Toxic Effects of Chloroprene in LaPlace, LA and St. John the Baptist Parish?
It is not yet known the extent of the effects that the toxicity from the Denka Neoprene plant have caused. If you believe you've been affected from living in LaPlace, LA and St. John the Baptist Parish, you need to contact Voorhies Law Firm immediately to discuss your options.