Residents Outraged Over 'Hazardous Emissions' in Willowbrook - NBC Chicago

Residents Outraged Over 'Hazardous Emissions' in Willowbrook

“Our biggest concern is the health of the residents and getting them some answers," Willowbrook's Mayor Frank Trilla said.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Residents Outraged Over 'Hazardous Emissions' in Willowbrook

    Willowbrook residents packed a meeting on Wednesday, worried that a plant is spewing a chemical that could cause cancer. Lauren Petty reports. 

    (Published Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018)

    Outrage was voiced Wednesday night from Willowbrook residents and surrounding communities after a federal report found "hazardous emissions" in the air.

    Sterigenics - operating in Willowbrook since 1984 - has released higher than allowed levels of Ethylene Oxide.

    “We call it (a) public health hazard,” Mark Johnson of ATSDR said.

    CDC and EPA officials say the chemical wasn’t classified as a known carcinogen until 2016 — but also says unacceptable levels are lower now.

    “It’s not an immediate health risk,” Mark Johnson of ATSDR said.

    The EPA says Sterigenics voluntarily added equipment to reduce emissions of the chemical.

    “We sterilize medical products," Katy Hoffman, senior vice president of Sterigenics, said. "It’s a hazardous substance for public benefit."

    Neighbors are worried about long term effects.

    “How many people here know someone here with cancer," a woman shouted at Wednesday's meeting.

    Government officials say they are studying local cancer rates, but neighbors demand more.

    The EPA says it will do more studies.

    Willowbrook officials say they’ll review zoning codes and make sure the company is in compliance.

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