The petrochemical industry is flourishing in Louisiana. New facilities and plants are constructed each year. There are so many that the stretch of the Mississippi River that runs between New Orleans and Baton Rouge has been nicknamed “Cancer Alley” because of its high concentration of petrochemical facilities.
Much of this expansion is adjacent to low-income communities. Residents who live in the shadows of these plants have long been concerned that the proliferation of petrochemical plants so near to their homes would have a negative impact on their health and the health of their families. It turns out their concerns were justified.
Louisiana Residents in Low-Income Areas with High Air Pollution Experience Higher Rates of Cancer
A new study released by the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic examined cancer incidence as related to cancer risks such as toxic air pollution, race, poverty, and occupation in Louisiana. The study compared the most recent cancer rates from the Louisiana Tumor Registry with pollution-related cancer risk from the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Air Toxics Assessment, as well as race and poverty data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
One of the big takeaways is the connection between cancer incidence and low-income areas with high levels of toxic air pollution. Residents in low-income/high air pollution regions have significantly higher cancer rates than the state-wide average, as well as similar low-income areas with less air pollution.
Toxic Air Pollutants in Louisiana
Toxic air pollutants (TAPs) are air pollutants that are known or suspected to cause serious human health problems, including cancer and birth defects. While TAPs can come from natural sources such as volcanoes and forest fires, many are man-made, the result of industrial processes. Exposure to some TAPs presents an immediate danger to humans. In most cases, the health damage is caused by prolonged exposure to the TAPs.
The degree to which a TAP affects a person’s health depends on several factors, such as the duration, frequency, and quantity of exposures, the toxicity of the pollutant, and the health of the person exposed.
Residents who live near industrial facilities have the potential to be exposed to a number of TAPs:
- Sulfur dioxide
- Carbon monoxide
- Nitrogen oxides
- Methylene chloride
- Metals such as mercury and chromium
- Lead compounds
In addition to cancer and birth defects, exposure to TAPs can cause many other health problems, including:
- Bronchitis and other respiratory ailments
- Cardiovascular disease
- Skin conditions
- Brain damage
- Nerve damage
Air pollution has even been linked to medical conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Filing a Claim for an Environmental Illness
If you’ve become ill as a result of exposure to toxic air pollution in Louisiana, you may be able to recover compensation for the damages caused by your illness by filing an environmental injury claim against the polluters. Obtaining this compensation won’t be easy. Most people in this situation hire an experienced Louisiana environmental lawyer.
An environmental law attorney can help you identify the responsible parties and help you gather the evidence to establish your claim. In order to be successful, you’ll have to be able to show that you were:
- An individual or company either accidentally or deliberately created an environmental hazard.
- You were unknowingly exposed to the environmental hazard or were unable to avoid exposure.
- You became ill as a result of this exposure.
- You suffered damages (medical expenses, lost wages, pain, suffering, etc.) as a result of the illness caused by the exposure.
Your attorney can assist you in many other ways as well. They can help you assign a dollar amount to your damages and negotiate on your behalf with the other party and their insurance company. Most polluters choose to make a settlement, but if they refuse, your lawyer will be able to argue your case in court in front of a judge and jury.
Speak to a Louisiana Environmental Contamination Attorney
Claims against large polluters are complex and challenging. It takes an experienced team of attorneys with the necessary expertise, resources, and dedication to successfully pursue a claim for pollution-related injuries and illnesses. Lambert Zainey Smith & Soso are leaders in environmental litigation. We’ve represented clients in a wide range of environmental cases involving:
- Air pollution
- Point-source, nonpoint-source, and transboundary water contamination
- Soil contamination
- Leaking storage tanks
- Abandoned industrial sites
- Pesticide or chemical fertilizer runoff
Worried you can’t afford the services of an experienced environmental attorney? Don’t be. Lambert Zainey Smith & Soso handles most air pollution injury cases on a contingency basis. This means there are no retainers or other upfront fees for our clients; we get paid as a percentage of your final settlement.
Contact Lambert Zainey Smith & Soso through our website, or call us at (800) 521-1750 to learn more about your rights when it comes to environmental litigation.