ProPublica: Laurel is a hotspot for cancer-causing industrial pollution

Pine Belt

LAUREL, Miss. (WHLT) – A new investigative report suggested a troubling risk for cancer in one South Mississippi community, and the risk is tied to industrial air pollution.

The nonprofit news group ProPublica used federal emissions data from a five-year period to map out the worst areas in the nation for cancer-causing air pollution from industries. Many of the areas have been linked to major petrochemical industries in coastal Texas and southeast Louisiana.

According to ProPublica, Laurel, Mississippi, is home to the worst lifetime cancer risks from industrial sources in the state. They found that people living in parts of southwest of Laurel face a risk of cancer from pollution that’s 39 times of hat federal officials consider an acceptable risk.

Howard Industries is based in Laurel. The high-tech manufacturing company emits chromium and nickel compounds into the air, according to ProPublica. Some variants of chromium are known as carcinogens.

The City of Byram also hosts industries that emit chromium compounds. However, the cancer risk in Byram is not nearly as high as in southwest Laurel.

The map that was shared by ProPublica is only a screening tool to highlight areas of potential concern. They said it cannot be used to tie industrial cancer cases to emissions from specific facilities.

Howard Industries, like many other companies, is subject to monitoring by the Environmental Pollution Agency. It has not been cited for Clean Air Act violations over the last five years.

WJTV 12 News reached out to Howard Industries in Laurel for a statement on the report. The company responded on Friday and said they are not interested in commenting.

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