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What is one thing you do more than anything else in your life? It is more than you eat, more than you drink and is the one thing, other than your heartbeat, that continues to happen even when you’re not thinking about it: You breathe.
Naturally, clean air is a basic requirement for human health. Air pollution can cause and worsen many health conditions. And unfortunately, traces of chemicals known to cause human cancer lurk in the air everywhere. None know better than residents in Willowbrook, IL where 40+ lawsuits have been filed to seek damages from chemical emissions by the Sterigenics plant.
Sterigenics is a plant in Willowbrook that sterilizes primarily medical instruments as well as pharmaceutical drugs and food. The company uses high doses of ethylene oxide, a colorless and odorless gas that has been linked to cancer, to sterilize the medical equipment.
The U.S. EPA regularly assesses cancer risks from air pollution with a National Air Toxics Assessment. The assessment sends red flags to areas where there is an impact from air toxins. Officials began investigating Sterigenics last year when surrounding communities were showing red flags on this assessment. The recent study found that people living or working within a mile of the plant in Willowbrook face some of the nation’s highest cancer risks, and in some areas more than nine times the national average.
Sterigenics primarily uses ethylene oxide, a gas known to cause cancer, the most common being lymphoma and leukemia, but stomach, blood and breast cancers can also be linked with ethylene oxide exposure. Can this be a coincidence? The residents of Cook County don’t think so and neither does our law office.
Backlash against the company has been brewing for months since residents learned of the dangers last year. The company has maintained their stance that these emissions have been within legal limits, but still the plant was ordered to be temporarily shut down in February 2018 by the Illinois Attorney General. Upon closing, ethylene oxide air pollution in the area plummeted by nearly 90%.
After 34 years of the plant being in production too much damage has already been done. Too many residents find too many similar stories and health issues to not fault the company that stole their good health and ruined their lives.
A woman, who has no family history of cancer, was diagnosed with breast cancer and has been dealing with the horrors of it for over 6 years. Another man, whose wife recently died of cancer, is now standing by while doctors treat his daughter who has Hodgkin’s lymphoma cancer. A daughter, who since second grade has had violent coughing fits causing sever sickness. They are not alone. Families all over the area have been plagued with several health problems.
The plant did reopen in July of 2018, but was permanently closed by September 2019 for reasons unrelated to the cases against it.