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EPA in Louisiana

LaPlace, Louisiana - Background Information

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What is chloroprene?

Chloroprene is a chemical used in the production of Neoprene. Neoprene, invented by DuPont in 1931, is a synthetic rubber used for many chemical and weather-resistent products such as wet suits and orthopedic braces. It also is used as a base resin in adhesives, electrical insulation and coatings.

In 2010, EPA classified chloroprene as a likely human carcinogen.

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About the Denka Performance Elastomer facility

DuPont was the leading producer of Neoprene polychloroprene in North America through manufacturing operations at its Pontchartrain Works site in LaPlace, La. On December 10, 2014, DuPont and DENKA Co. Ltd. announced an agreement to sell Dupont's Neoprene facility to Denka Co. Ltd. Denka Co. Ltd. was founded in 1915 and is headquartered in Tokyo, Japan. The owner and operator of the facility is Denka Performance Elastomer, LLC, a newly formed joint venture in which Denka Co. Ltd. owns 70 percent and Mitsui Co. Ltd., also based in Tokyo, owns 30 percent. The joint venture was established as a result of their acquisition of DuPont's Neoprene business, which was completed effective Nov. 1, 2015.

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Why EPA is involved

The 2011 National Air Toxics Assessment (NATA), a screening-level assessment for the United States, was released in December 2015 and estimated higher than expected levels of chloroprene in the community of LaPlace, La.

NATA contains emissions data from 2011 and uses models to make broad estimates of health risks over geographic areas of the country. NATA uses emissions, modeled ambient conditions and estimated inhalation exposures from outdoor sources. Learn more about NATA.

EPA verified the modeled emissions data used in the 2011 assessment with the facility owners, DuPont and DENKA, prior to releasing the national assessment in December 2015. Since the release of NATA 2011, the EPA and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) have been working closely with DENKA representatives to fully assess actual conditions near the Pontchartrain facility in the community of LaPlace, La. 

EPA immediately began working with DENKA and former owner DuPont to obtain any air monitoring data collected at the Pontchartrain facility for review and evaluation by both EPA and LDEQ.

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