20 July 2019

Bombshell Report: Covington, GA a Cancer Cluster?

Almost All of Covington, GA Seeing Higher Than Average Cancer Cases; Some Parts of City Seeing Rates Extremely Higher Than Statewide Average... 

Yesterday, July 19th, WebMD, in conjunction with Georgia Health News, released an article with very concerning information of our beloved home city - Covington, GA.

For years several have pointed out that cancer rates were higher in Covington than most cities in Georgia, and there has been data that supported this. I've personally been hearing about it since the 1990's. At that time, it was assumed that some of the earlier industries that first opened up back in the 70s & 80s were to blame, and perhaps they were, but this recent story - referencing information quietly released by the EPA over a year ago - raises concerns of more recent pollution creating much higher-than-normal cancer rates.

According to the report, BD Bard (formerly CR Bard), located on Industrial Boulevard, has been releasing thousands of pounds of a gas called ethylene oxide, that has now been scientifically classified as a cancer-causing agent.

From the WebMD article

By 2016, the agency had made its decision: Ethylene oxide was far more dangerous than the scientists had understood before. The agency moved it from a list of chemicals that probably could cause cancer to a list of those that definitely caused cancer. The EPA also updated a key risk number for the chemical to reflect that it was 30 times more likely to cause certain cancers than scientists had once known.
Two years later, in 2018, the agency used that new risk value for a periodic report that assesses health risks from releases of airborne toxins in the U.S. That report, called the National Air Toxics Assessment, or NATA, flagged 109 census tracts across the country where cancer risks were higher because of exposure to airborne toxins. Most of the risks were driven by just one chemical: ethylene oxide.

The highest risks were in 12 census tracts in “cancer alley,” in Louisiana, near facilities that make ethylene oxide or use it to make other chemicals. Other states with affected areas included Pennsylvania, Colorado, Texas, New Mexico, Delaware, New Jersey, and Illinois, according to an analysis of the NATA data by The Intercept, an investigative reporting site.
Georgia has three affected census tracts, all in metro Atlanta -- two in the Smyrna area, and one in Covington where Ann Singley lived. The report estimated that around Smyrna, ethylene oxide causes 114 extra cases of cancer for every million people exposed over their lifetimes. In Covington, it estimated the gas causes 214 cases for every million people exposed. The EPA considers the cancer risk from pollution to be unacceptable when it tops 100 cases for every million people who are exposed to a chemical over the course of their lifetime.

In the neighborhoods that have been impacted in Georgia, people are just hearing about the hazard --from Georgia Health News and WebMD nearly a year after the federal government released its official list of the hot spots. The EPA decided not to put out a news release, and state regulators did not issue one either. 

The map of the cancer levels in Covington in the article is extremely disturbing as the levels of cancer rates rise exponentially the closer you get to the Bard plant.

Even more disturbing is the fact that there have been concerns of ethylene oxide going back decades.

This story is very much developing... 

- MB McCart