The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will begin regulating cancer-causing toxins released from PVC plants by July 2011 as part of a settlement reached through an Earthjustice lawsuit.
PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, is used to make a wide range of plastic products such as vinyl siding, plumbing and even raincoats. PVC plants pump some 500,000 pounds of vinyl chloride -- a known human carcinogen -- and many other toxins into the atmosphere each year.
For decades, the PVC industry's air emissions were largely unregulated, leaving harmful emissions such as dioxins, chromium, lead, chlorine and hydrogen chloride, which are associated with a wide variety of serious adverse health effects, including cancer, entirely unchecked.
As the unofficial PVC capital of America, Mossville, LA, with its four vinyl production facilities, has been particularly affected by PVC plant pollution. There, pollutant levels are three times the national average. New Jersey, Delaware, Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama, Michigan, Oklahoma and Texas house the remaining polyvinyl chloride manufacturing plants.
"This is the first step in preventing dangerous toxins from destroying communities," said Earthjustice attorney Katie Renshaw. "We are hopeful that EPA will finally give residents their right to clean air and water by issuing a real limit on PVC plant emissions."