Health Advocates Taking Environmental Concerns to D.C., Associated Press

High levels of toxic chemicals in the blood of Calcasieu Parish residents are tied directly to nearby factories that make vinyl, plastics and petroleum products.

That’s according to an environmental advocacy group. The New Orleans-based Advocates for Environmental Human Rights released a report yesterday (Tuesday) by chemist Wilma Subra about federal data on dioxins in the blood of residents in Mossville, an unincorporated community near Westlake.

More than a dozen refineries and factories are in the area. The federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry in May released results of its study comparing dioxin levels in Lafayette and Calcasieu parish residents. The agency found that only Mossville residents at least 45 years old had above-average dioxin levels. Otherwise, it said, people in both parishes have dioxin levels similar to the rest of the country.

Mossville residents have long claimed that pollutants emitted from the vinyl and other plants are making them sick. Research has connected certain types of dioxins with cancer, birth defects, skin problems and other ailments.

The advocacy group’s co-director, Nathalie Walker, and several Mossville residents are scheduled today to travel to Washington, DC, to attend an environmental subcommittee hearing whose topics will include dioxins in their town.

Environmental Protection Agency spokesman Dave Bary said the agency had no immediate comment.