New Orleans Chloroprene Lawyers
Our Firm Is Fighting for Justice After Chloroprene Leaks in LaPlace, LA
Investigative reporting from CNN has revealed that the Denka Performance Elastomer chemical plant in LaPlace, Louisiana is releasing a chemical so toxic that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 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 numerous industrial plants coinciding with high rates of cancer, this area in LaPlace is at its 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 various studies showed that the chemical was capable of causing cancer. Chloroprene exposure can not only cause cancer but also cause a myriad of health effects with both short- and long-term exposure. Direct inhalation of chloroprene can be deadly.
What is Chloroprene?
Per the EPA: “Chloroprene is a chemical used in the production of neoprene.” It presents itself as a colorless liquid with an Ether-like odor. Chloroprene is also classified as a likely carcinogen by several agencies, including the EPA. Carcinogens are substances capable of causing cancer in living tissue.
Is Chloroprene a Carcinogen?
In 2010, the EPA identified chloroprene as a likely human carcinogen and provided a unit risk estimate. This means that chloroprene can cause cancer in living tissue and probably causes cancer in humans. Airborne exposure to chloroprene should be kept as low as possible. If the chemical exposure is evident on your skin, you are likely overexposed and should see a doctor as soon as possible.
Is Neoprene a Carcinogenic Material?
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not classified neoprene as a carcinogen, and using products that contain neoprene is unlikely to cause exposure to chloroprene, as the levels of chloroprene in most neoprene-containing products is very low.
Short Term Health Effects of Chloroprene
If you are exposed to large amounts of chloroprene, it does not take long for the chemical to affect your health.
Short-term health effects chloroprene exposure include:
- Neurological symptoms: Headaches, dizziness, insomnia
- Cardiovascular symptoms: 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
When you are exposed to high doses of chloroprene over time, you can develop even more serious conditions.
Some of these health problems are as follows:
- Cancer: lung cancer (Adenocarcinoma), kidney cancer
- Increased risk of tumors in multiple organs
- Birth defects
- Fetal abnormalities
- Temporary hair loss on exposed body parts
The manager of the Denka chloroprene rubber plant has stated, "there is no cancer risk” involved in the production of neoprene. 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 the chemical is carcinogenic to humans.
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 reduce the Denka plant's chloroprene emissions by 85%. Even with the installation of new chemical emissions devices, however, the factory will still fall short of reducing chloroprene emissions to the 1 microgram per cubic meter recommended by the EPA.
Have You or a Loved One Been Adversely Affected by Chloroprene?
We don’t yet know the extent of the damage tied to the Denka Neoprene plant’s toxic emissions. If you believe you've been affected by living in LaPlace, LA and St. John the Baptist Parish, you need to contact Voorhies Law Firm immediately to discuss your options.
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