Since 1998, the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) – which is a division of the Centers for Disease Control – has conducted an Exposure Investigation of dioxins in Mossville, Louisiana, an historic African American community located next to the city of Lake Charles. The Exposure Investigation, a collaborative effort involving the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), documents that Mossville residents have an average level of dioxins that is 3 times higher than the average level of dioxins in the general U.S. population. However, the Exposure Investigation entirely fails to identify the sources of the dioxins harming the health and environment of residents. Dioxins are the most toxic chemicals known to science, and scientists have determined that there is no safe level of dioxin compounds. Dioxins can cause cancer, reproductive damage, and extensive harm to fetal and child development. Dioxin compounds build up in the human body where they are stored in fatty tissues, such as breast milk, and can be passed on to the unborn during pregnancy and lactation.
Mossville residents are surrounded by 14 toxic industrial facilities, several of which routinely release dioxins into the air, water, and land. Residents have long complained about health problems that a university health study has linked to industrial pollution. However, governmental agencies continue to issue permits which allow the industrial facilities to increase the amount of toxic pollution, including dioxins, that they release into the Mossville community.
Notwithstanding ATSDR’s and EPA’s obligation to protect human health and the environment, and Mossville residents’ repeated demands that these agencies identify and eliminate the sources of the dioxin exposures, ATSDR and EPA have never attempted to investigate any link between the local industrial dioxin emissions and the dioxins detected in the blood and environment of Mossville residents. This report presents an analysis of the data collected by these very same agencies, which these agencies could have, but failed to analyze. As discussed in this report, the following local industrial facilities are the sources of the elevated dioxin levels in the Mossville community:
Furthermore, notwithstanding the incontrovertible fact that dioxin exposure is a serious threat to human life and health, ATSDR has not offered any meaningful assistance to Mossville residents in formulating an effective and expeditious method for addressing their situation, nor has ATSDR recommended that EPA or any other agency take action to prevent the critical public health threat of dioxin
Against great odds, Mossville residents continue to struggle to protect their health and future generations from toxic exposures that threaten their very survival. This report provides recommendations for corrective governmental action that would protect the human right to a healthy environment which is being violated in Mossville and numerous communities across the United States that are severely burdened with toxic pollution.
Environmental Human Rights