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Ethylene oxide has posed dangers in Louisiana for 50 years

The Mississippi River Delta has seen more than its share of pollutants and contaminants during its centuries as a center of industry and major avenue of trade. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has studied the area for 40 years in an attempt to lessen the dangers to citizens of the region.

A federal lawsuit shook up St. John the Baptist Parish in 2015 over the presence of chloroprene, identified as a likely cause of lung cancer among other ailments. The EPA reported the parish has the highest concentration of the substance, which most locals blamed on a local industrial chemical plant.

Now, several parishes along the Mississippi River are facing the threat of a new chemical. Ethylene oxide, which the EPA classifies as a proven carcinogen, may have been spread over the delta region in amounts sufficient to cause public health hazards. At least 10 companies have produced ethylene oxide in Louisiana since the 1960s.

Emissions from plants on the "chemical corridor," the industrial zone straddling the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, make a district of four parishes one of the areas most likely to see cancer caused by industrial contaminants. Lung, thyroid and breast cancers are among the most likely illnesses to develop from these conditions.

Victims of illnesses caused by industrial contaminants or construction materials may have a case, either on their own or in a class action, for financial damages to make recovery easier. An attorney can help review the facts of the case and the legal climate for options to reach a settlement or win a lawsuit in court.

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