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EPA awards Louisiana over $311,000 to assess air pollutants in St. John Parish

Grant funding prioritized for areas facing air quality challenges

10/08/2020
Contact Information: 
Joe Hubbard or Jennah Durant at 214-665-2200 or r6press@epa.gov

DALLAS (Oct. 8, 2020) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently awarded the state of Louisiana two grants for a total of $311,012. The grants will help the state determine health risks from toxic air pollutants in the community near the Denka Plant in St. John the Baptist Parish, La.

“Through these grants, EPA supports states as they develop programs and projects to address localized environmental concerns,” said EPA Regional Administrator Ken McQueen. “EPA has been working with the State of Louisiana and the local leadership in St. John the Baptist Parish for several years to reduce chloroprene emissions. We look forward to further assisting the community through these grants, which will promote the health of its citizens and the environment.”

The two grants were awarded to La. state agencies in partnership with Louisiana State University. EPA awarded $224,931 to the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality and $86,081 to the Louisiana Department of Health to assess the health risks associated with Chloroprene exposure in the community near the Denka Plant. 

Chloroprene is a chemical used in the production of neoprene. Neoprene has a variety of uses, such as in wetsuits, gaskets, hoses and adhesives. Chloroprene is classified as a likely carcinogen by several agencies, including EPA.

As EPA pursues its mission to protect human health and the environment, the agency periodically awards grants to help state, local and tribal air agencies conduct air quality monitoring projects to address localized air toxics issues. Air toxics, also known as hazardous air pollutants, may be linked to cancer or other serious health effects. Under the Clean Air Act, EPA currently regulates 187 listed air toxic pollutants.

Congress created the MPG program in 2016, and appropriated funds to this program in fiscal year (FY) 2018, FY 2019, and FY 2020. This MPG program is for the $13 million Congress appropriated in FY 2020. The Explanatory Statement accompanying the 2020 Act suggested that states and tribes might use the MPG funds to address emerging contaminants such as PFAS, but directed the Agency “to continue to give maximum flexibility to States and Tribes so that they, not the Agency, may determine where funds from this grant program are of most value.”

For more information on Denka and EPA actions in the community, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/la/laplace-louisiana-background-information

For more information on Chloroprene in Louisiana visit: https://www.epa.gov/la/laplace-louisiana-frequent-questions

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