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2 May 2022

USA: Denka emits unsafe levels of carcinogenic chemical & attempts to weaken assessment of its risk to humans; co. did not respond

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Residents of Louisiana's St. John the Baptist Parish have spoken out about the disproportionate risks of cancer, respiratory and immune diseases, and other illnesses they face, which they believe to be related to a nearby Denka Company Limited chemical plant. The plant emits chloroprene, a chemical that was assessed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to be "likely carcinogenic to humans" and has been regulated by the EPA. Measurements from January 2022 indicate that Denka's chloroprene emissions remain above the limits set by the EPA.

Community members have noted their concern about the chemical plants' location near an elementary school, whose student body is more than 90 percent children of colour. In November 2021, EPA Administrator Michael Regan visited the community as part of his "Journey to Justice" tour that highlighted environmental justice concerns in areas that have been disproportionately impacted by pollution.

In July 2021, Denka requested that the EPA use a new model to measure chloroprene's risk to humans that would weaken the assessment that it was carcinogenic to humans. The EPA denied Denka's request and stated that it would not changes its assessment of chloroprene's risk to humans. Reporting on Denka's request to the EPA by The Intercept found that the company hired scientists to develop the new model that "painted a rosier picture of chloroprene" and used industry-funded research to support its request.

The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre requested a response from Denka Company Limited about allegations in the article. Denka did not respond.