Officials knew ethylene oxide was linked to cancer for decades. Here’s why it’s still being emitted in Willowbrook and Waukegan.

Read the full story in the Chicago Tribune.

Chemical companies and government health agencies have known since at least the late 1970s that ethylene oxide mutates genes and causes breast cancer, leukemia and lymphomas. After owners of the Willowbrook plant applied for a new permit in the mid-1980s, state regulators estimated that people living within a mile of the facility could end up breathing the highly toxic gas at concentrations 14 times higher than studies suggested was safe at the time.

Yet time and time again, a Chicago Tribune investigation found, the multibillion-dollar chemical industry and its political allies in Washington have thwarted, weakened or delayed efforts to limit exposure to ethylene oxide, relying on the same tactics used to stall action on more well-known hazards like lead and asbestos.

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