Workers and residents of Institute, West Virginia, may be at a much greater risk of developing cancer. The culprit is ethylene oxide (EtO), a carcinogenic chemical used at the Union Carbide manufacturing plant.
If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with cancer after living near or working in the Union Carbide facility in Institute, WV, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Across the country, individuals who suffered from toxic exposure to EtO are moving forward with ethylene oxide lawsuits against the companies that exposed them to this carcinogen.
The consultation is free and confidential, and you won’t have to pay a penny out of pocket for experienced legal representation. To get started, call our EtO lawsuit attorneys today at (866) 778-5500 or complete our online form.
The people who are most at risk of suffering serious harm from exposure to ethylene oxide are those who have a history of long-term exposure to the toxic chemical.
Most ethylene oxide lawsuits are filed by people who:
Among both residents and workers near these facilities, long-term exposure is the most concerning. If you only lived or worked in this area for a short time, you aren’t likely to have a significant increase in cancer risk.
On the other hand, you are more likely to have an elevated cancer risk if:
Union Carbide EtO lawsuits may be filed on behalf of either adults or minors. Because they are still growing, children are more sensitive to ethylene oxide exposure and more susceptible to developing damage to their DNA, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reported. In fact, the EPA stated, “ The contribution to lifetime cancer risk from a single year of exposure to ethylene oxide is greater if that year occurred during childhood.”
What is ethylene oxide, anyway? This gas is colorless and odorless, so you could be breathing it in without ever knowing it’s there.
Where is ethylene oxide found? This chemical is primarily used in manufacturing plants and commercial sterilizing facilities.
Manufacturing companies and industrial plants use ethylene oxide in chemical manufacturing. This explains its heavy use at Union Carbide facilities, which produce chemicals and polymers.
Additionally, commercial sterilizers and hospitals use ethylene oxide for sterilization. Ethylene oxide sterilization is common for medical supplies and devices as well as consumer products such as spices and cosmetics.
Long-term exposure to ethylene oxide may increase your risk for a number of potential injuries and illnesses. The type of injury most commonly alleged in an ethylene oxide lawsuit is cancer.
Is ethylene oxide carcinogenic? The short answer is: yes.
The EPA has classified EtO as a carcinogen—a substance known to cause cancer—since 2016. That’s also the year the EPA updated the toxicity value of ethylene oxide (in other words, how much ethylene oxide is dangerous) based on the agency’s new awareness that “EtO is 60 times more toxic than the previous estimate.”
What makes EtO able to cause cancer is its ability to damage and mutate DNA, the National Cancer Institute reported.
The evidence linking certain cancers to EtO exposure is particularly strong. These cancers include leukemias, lymphomas, multiple myeloma, and breast cancer.
The link between EtO exposure and cancer of the white blood cells is particularly well-established through scientific research, the EPA reported.
One example of cancer of the white blood cells is leukemia. Leukemia is the term for cancers that affect the tissues of the body, like the lymphatic system and the bone marrow, that form blood cells. Generally, patients with leukemia have an excessive amount of white blood cells that are abnormal and fail to function—and fight infections—properly, Mayo Clinic reported.
There are many kinds of leukemia, including the following:
Lymphoma is cancer that begins in the lymphatic system. In particular, the subtype of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is among the forms of cancer more commonly associated with EtO exposure. Types of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma include:
Abnormal growths of white blood cells called lymphocytes can develop throughout the bodies of patients with non-Hodgkin’s forms of lymphoma, Mayo Clinic reported.
Multiple myeloma is cancer that forms in the plasma cells of the bone marrow, according to Mayo Clinic.
Treatments for blood cancers like leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma may include:
Long-term exposure to EtO is also associated with an increased risk of developing breast cancer, particularly in women, the EPA reported.
Types of breast cancer, according to Mayo Clinic, include:
Treatments for breast cancer may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, immunotherapy, targeted therapy, and hormone therapy.
Learn more about cancer diagnoses linked to ethylene oxide.
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Ethylene oxide is still in use at more than 100 facilities across the United States. What makes EtO toxic exposure in the vicinity of the Union Carbide plant in Institute, WV, so concerning?
Local news station WSAZ reported in 2022 that, per the Environmental Protection Agency, the cancer risk for the area in the vicinity of the Institute Union Carbide facility and the South Charleston Union Carbide facility was 300 times higher than the national benchmark. More than 12,000 people live within these hotspots.
The elevated cancer risk is particularly pronounced in the area surrounding the Institute Union Carbide facility, WSAZ reported. For an area to be considered a hotspot, the data must show a likelihood of at least 100 people out of a million developing cancer over 70 years of breathing in polluted air. In the area surrounding the Institute Union Carbide facility, 335 people out of a million are likely to develop cancer because of exposure to ethylene oxide, WSAZ reported.
The Institute and South Charleston Union Carbide facilities were flagged as posing a “potentially elevated cancer risk” due to ethylene oxide exposure in August 2018, WSAZ reported. The area was officially declared a cancer hotspot in March 2020.
However, the general public remained in the dark for more than a year after the area acquired its cancer hotspot status. Not until the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection sent out a release in August 2021 was the community formally notified of the significant danger EtO air pollution posed.
Hundreds of EtO cancer lawsuits are already in progress against the companies responsible for an ethylene oxide leak that led to toxic air pollution.
If you have lived or worked near the Union Carbide plant in Institute, WV, and developed any form of cancer linked to EtO exposure, you could be entitled to financial compensation.
To get your claim started, speak to an experienced ethylene oxide lawsuit attorney. The consultation is free and confidential. A legal professional will take down the information needed to move forward with an investigation and start gathering evidence to support your claim.
When you hire EtO attorneys like Console & Associates, P.C. to represent you, we’ll handle every aspect of the legal claim at no upfront cost. You just focus on your health.