CHICAGO (CBS) — The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will publicly share information about tests at a Willowbrook company, suspected of causing cancer and other health issues for people living in close proximity. The news comes after a third lawsuit was announced against Sterigenics on Thursday.
The U.S. EPA announced the agency has agreed to perform ambient air testing at the Sterigenics facility in Willowbrook. A web page will be created in order to provide an avenue for the public to access to the test results.
Susan Kamuda is a cancer survivor suing Sterigenics, choosing to publicly share her story and battle with cancer.
“I was diagnosed with breast cancer 10 years ago,” Kamuda stated, claiming it was a diagnosis that came out of the blue since she does not have any family with history of the disease.
In August, a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) report was released, stating residents and workers in the Willowbrook area have been exposed to elevated airborne ethylene oxide concentrations from the Sterigenics facility.
Kamuda said after hearing about the report, she started to think the known carcinogen may be the cause of her cancer.
“We’re less than half a mile, about three blocks from Sterigenics,” Kamuda said. “We’ve lived in our house since 1985.”
Kamuda is not alone. At least two other law firms have filed lawsuits against Sterigenics on behalf of clients.
“This has been going on for 34 years and we just found out about this in the last month,” stated Jeff Kroll, Kamuda’s Attorney. “There’s outrage in the community. This is now the 19th largest cancer cluster in the country. This is in the top one percentage for incidents of cancer and it is no coincidence.”
Kroll hopes the lawsuit will help Kamuda and her husband get answers as to who knew about possible issues at Sterigenics.
Kamuda said, “The reason I’m filing this lawsuit is because I want to stop them. I want to stop them from poisoning our neighborhood.”
In a statement, a spokesperson for Sterigenics said, “Unfortunately, the community has been exposed to a lot of inaccurate and misinterpreted information and we are committed to getting the real facts to residents who, based on what they have been hearing and reading, are understandably concerned.”
In a statement, the DuPage County Board Chairman, Dan Cronin, stated, “It is gratifying to know we can make an impact at the federal level on behalf of the residents of Willowbrook and DuPage County. From the very beginning, we have been calling for ambient air testing so that residents could get some assurance that the air they are breathing is safe. The lack of information has led to anxiety and misinformation, so it will be extremely beneficial for the public to have a trusted site to consult for scientific data they can understand. Our goal has been and continues to be, to protect the safety and health of our residents,” said Cronin.
A spokesperson for Sterigenics said, in a statement, “Unfortunately, the community has been exposed to a lot of inaccurate and misinterpreted information and we are committed to getting the real facts to residents who, based on what they have been hearing and reading, are understandably concerned.”
The statement went on to say the company’s ethylene oxide emissions have always been well below permitted levels.