You may assume that the air you breathe, the products you use, and the water that you drink are all safe; this is a reasonable assumption. However, the truth is that all of the above could be quite dangerous – chemicals and toxins permeate everything from the air in our homes and atmosphere to our soil, drinking water, and more. 

One of the most dangerous chemicals that has been linked to adverse health events in humans is that of ethylene oxide. Used by at least 36 industrial firms in the United States, ethylene oxide could be poisoning you and your family. If you believe that you have developed cancer or another serious health condition as a result of exposure to ethylene oxide, our legal team will aggressively advocate for you and your rights. 

At MG Law, our Georgia toxic tort and environmental law attorneys are committed to providing strong, effective legal representation to injured victims and their loved ones. If you or your family member suffered harm as a result of chemical exposure or other dangerous conditions in the environment, we are here to help. Contact our Georgia toxic tort lawyers now for a free, strictly confidential initial consultation.

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What Is Ethylene Oxide?

Ethylene oxide is a flammable, colorless gas that is used in several industrial firms nationwide. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), ethylene oxide is used in the production of:

  • Antifreeze;
  • Solvents;
  • Pharmaceuticals;
  • Adhesives;
  • Detergents;
  • Textiles; and
  • Polyurethane foam. 

In addition to being used in the production of the above materials, ethylene oxide can also be found in sterilants for spices and cosmetics, sterilization of surgical equipment, and fumigants. 

Exposure to ethylene oxide can be dangerous. The dangers of exposure will be discussed in more detail below. 

How Ethylene Oxide Exposure Occurs

If you don’t work in an industrial firm that manufactures one of the above products, then you may assume that you are safe from ethylene oxide exposure. However, this is not necessarily the case. While it is true that workers in the above manufacturing and production industries are indeed at an increased risk of exposure, exposure can occur in other ways, too.

To be sure, companies and industrial firms that use ethylene oxide in production may emit this toxin into the air, contaminating the air for surrounding persons and communities. In fact, a report published by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2018 identified 109 census tracts nationwide that are at an increased risk of cancer due to airborne toxin exposure of ethylene oxide. 

What Is The History Of Ethylene Oxide Exposure In Georgia?

Unfortunately, ethylene oxide exposure is a serious public safety problem in our region. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) highlights two plants in Northern Georgia that may have caused harm to members of the public by emitting ethylene oxide and other types of chemicals into the environment, including into the air and groundwater supply. Specifically, the two plants are: 

  • A Sterigenics facility located in Smyrna; and
  • A BD Bard (Becton Dickenson) facility located in Covington. 

Ethylene Oxide Exposure at the Sterigenics Facility (Smyrna, Georgia)

Located off of Atlanta Road and right next to the Chattahoochee River, the Sterigenics plant manufactures and supplies a wide variety of different types of medical equipment. Alarmingly, strong evidence has been presented that the cancer-causing gas ethylene oxide has been emitted at the site. Local government officers, officials from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, and federal regulators are actively reviewing the matter. 

To be clear, this is still an ongoing situation. While the plant was closed indefinitely earlier this fall, it operated at this site in Smyrna for decades. Researchers are still gathering information on the public health effects caused by chemical exposure at the plant.

To get the latest public health information related to the Sterigenics facility in Smyrna, you can refer to an updated press release guide that has been compiled by Cobb County. Alternatively, if you have any specific questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to call our Smyrna, GA toxic tort lawyers for immediate assistance. 

Ethylene Oxide Exposure at the BD Bard Facility (Covington, Georgia)

Becton Dickenson is a major medical device manufacturer and supplier. In 2017, the company made a billion-dollar acquisition of the firm  C. R. Bard—as a result, you will often hear the business referred to simply as ‘BD Bard’. The company operates a plant at 8195 Industrial Boulevard in Covington, Georgia.

Unfortunately, this plant has been linked to the cancer-causing gas ethylene oxide. Allegations have been raised that BD Bard emitted a dangerous amount of ethylene oxide at the Covington site.

BD Bard is still actively operating at its facility in Covington. Over the last several months, state and local officials have discussed shutting down the plant altogether. On October 28th, 2019, BD Bard reached an agreement with the state of Georgia, halting operations for one week as a result of gas leak protocols and air/water quality concerns.

BD Bard has also agreed to reduce emissions when it reopens. That being said, the plant has been operating for many years. If you have any questions about the BD Bard and chemical exposure, contact our Covington, GA toxic tort lawyers for immediate assistance.

Connection Between Ethylene Oxide, Cancer, & Other Adverse Health Events

As stated above, exposure to ethylene oxide can be extremely dangerous. It is associated with numerous serious illnesses, including cancer. The same OSHA publication that is cited above states that potentially adverse health events of ethylene oxide exposure include:

  • Eye pain;
  • Sore throat;
  • Difficult breathing;
  • Blurred vision;
  • Dizziness;
  • Nausea;
  • Headache;
  • Convulsions;
  • Blisters;
  • Vomiting;
  • Coughing;
  • Leukemia and other cancers; 
  • Spontaneous abortion;
  • Genetic damage;
  • Nerve damage;
  • Peripheral paralysis;
  • Muscle weakness;
  • Impaired thinking; and
  • Impaired memory.

There are two metro Atlanta communities in particular that have suffered extraordinarily from ethylene oxide exposure: Smyrna and Covington.

According to the same EPA report cited above, and described in an article published by 11 Alive, the EPA considers it unacceptable for a community to have 100 extra incidences of cancer per 1 million people exposed (to ethylene oxide). In Smyrna, the cancer rate following ethylene oxide exposure was 114 additional cases of cancer; in Covington, there were more than 200 additional cases of cancer reported. This has resulted in the issue being referred to as the “Covington cancer cluster.” The Covington area exposure is the result of operations at the Becton Dickinson (BD) Bard plant. 

Perhaps most shocking about the issue is not that ethylene oxide is dangerous or that cancer rates have skyrocketed in communities where ethylene oxide exposure has occurred, but that officials have known about the risks of ethylene oxide exposure for decades, yet people in communities living close to ethylene oxide-emitting facilities are being exposed to the toxin at concentrations up to 14 times higher than studies suggest are safe. 

How Our Georgia Environmental Law & Toxic Tort Lawyers Can Help

In order to bring forth a successful toxic tort claim, you’ll need a skilled attorney on your side who has the resources your case demands. Toxic tort and environmental injury claims are among the most complex types of legal cases. Various experts will need to be called in, a thorough investigation must be conducted, and a strong, well-documented case must be presented. You can be certain that BD Bard, Becton Dickenson, Sterigenics, or any other large corporate defendant will have excellent attorneys on its side.

These companies have an enormous amount of resources at their disposal. Do not go up against them alone. When you reach out to the office of MG Law, you can level the playing field. Among other things, our Georgia toxic tort attorneys are prepared to: 

  • Conduct a free, confidential assessment of your toxic tort claim;
  • Listen to your story and explain your options; 
  • Understand exactly how ethylene oxide or other chemical exposure affected you and your family;  
  • Comprehensively investigate your case—securing all relevant evidence; and
  • Take aggressive legal action to protect your rights and interests. 

We understand ethylene oxide injuries and toxic tort claims. Whether you are considering pursuing legal action against BD Bard, Sterigenics, or any other company, our top-rated Covington & Smyrna environmental tort lawyers are ready to help. We are proud to be leaders in the community and in the courtroom. Our legal team will work tirelessly to get justice, accountability, and full financial compensation. 

Do You Have A Toxic Tort Claim?

If you live in an area where ethylene oxide levels are high and you have been diagnosed with a serious health condition, such as cancer, you may be able to hold BD Bard (or another party) liable for the harm that you have suffered. You will need to prove that your disease or condition is a direct result of your exposure, which will take the help of experts. 

If you can prove that your cancer or other health condition would not have developed but for unsafe levels of ethylene oxide exposure, and you can prove that the company in question knew of the hazards of ethylene oxide exposure yet failed to act to prevent contamination, you can hold the company liable for the full extent of your economic and noneconomic losses. 

Discuss Your Case With Our Georgia Toxic Tort Attorneys Right Away

At MG Law, our experienced Georgia toxic tort and environmental law attorneys fight aggressively to protect the legal rights and financial interests of injured victims and their loved ones. We strongly believe that companies should be held liable for the harm that they cause to community members and others. You deserve justice and full financial compensation. 

If you’ve been diagnosed with a condition that you believe is related to your exposure to ethylene oxide, please call our law firm today for a free consultation. We can also assist you if you believe that you have a separate toxic tort or environmental law case. With law offices in Covington, Conyers, and Atlanta, we serve clients throughout the state of Georgia, including in Smyrna.

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