Residents in several Atlanta-area cities were horrified to learn they have been breathing a cancer-causing chemical in the air for years. The chemical in question, Ethylene Oxide, was released by two companies who practice medical equipment sterilization in both Smyrna and Covington. This has many residents reaching out to Atlanta trial attorneys for legal advice.
What is Ethylene Oxide?
According to the National Cancer Institute, ethylene oxide is a flammable, colorless gas with a sweet odor. It is predominantly used to produce other chemicals like antifreeze. It can also be used in smaller doses as a pesticide or sterilizer, as is the case in these Georgia communities. In fact, industry reports suggest that ethylene oxide is used on almost 50 percent of medical products in the United States.
Ethylene oxide’s ability to destroy DNA is what makes it an effective sterilizer. However, this is also what contributes to its capacity for causing cancer. The most common types of cancer associated with exposure to ethylene oxide are leukemia, lymphoma, stomach and breast. Continued exposure to ethylene oxide can also result in damaging reproductive effects.
Isn’t this release of toxic chemicals illegal?
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began an investigation into the effects of ethylene oxide more than ten years ago. Their report, released in late 2018, flagged more than 100 Census tracts throughout the U.S. that are at a higher risk for cancer as a result of airborne toxins.
The EPA previously labeled ethylene oxide as “likely to cause cancer.” After their investigation the classification was advanced to “definitely causes cancer.”
The main issue residents are facing is whether or not this release of chemicals is in fact legal. While both companies – BD Bard and Sterigenics – are releasing more ethylene oxide than they should, they received their permits before the EPA changed ethylene oxide’s classification. This allows them to release thousands of pounds of toxic chemicals into the air without breaking any laws.
Residents Should Contact Experienced Atlanta Trial Attorneys
While each case depends on its facts, if you live in Smyrna or Covington and have been diagnosed with cancer, you may be entitled to compensation. Such compensation can include money for past and future medical bills and treatments, money for lost wages, payment for lost ability to work, compensation for pain and suffering, and money for the premature death of a loved one.
The experienced attorneys at Glass & Robson will provide a risk-free, no-obligation review of your potential case and whether you qualify to file a lawsuit. The consultation is confidential and you will not be charged costs upfront or attorney fees unless you receive compensation. Please call our office at (404) 465-2530 to request a free consultation.