Crossett study reveals chemicals in air and water - KNOE 8 News; KNOE-TV; KNOE.com |

Crossett study reveals chemicals in air and water

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CROSSETT, Ark. (KNOE 8 News) - People in Ashley County, Arkansas, are learning what chemicals in the air and water could be to blame for their health issues.

Being sick in the town of Crossett is normal, according to a 2-year health study. Headaches, eye irritation, coughing, and dizziness are the top issues that the majority of those polled have experienced.

Many are placing the blame on chemicals released in the air and water by Georgia Pacific, positioned in the middle of town.

"In Arkansas, the water is much lighter, but when it gets to Georgia Pacific's discharge point, the color changes, and the river in Louisiana is an entirely different color, and it brings odors, and chemicals with it," says Cheryl Slavant of the Ouachita Riverkeepers.

Although most paper mill towns have an occasional "rotten egg" smell, it's the chemicals behind the smell that concerns environmentalist Wilma Subra.

"You have a lot of formaldehyde being released in the air," says Subra, "formaldehyde is known to cause cancer. These people have lived here for a very long time, chronic exposure, and it correlates to the kinds of cancer we are seeing in the community."

Subra reports that many of the health issues reported by Crossett residents are directly caused by the chemicals released at the paper mill. The question remains, if it's in the air and water in Crossett, what of this is heading down the Ouachita River and to people in the five parishes it flows through?

"If you eat contaminated food, like from your garden, or contaminated fish from the water way," says Subra, "it bio-accumulates in those fish, and then it bio-accumulates in your body."

The next step of the study, is to test the individuals reporting illness to determine if pollution is, in fact, the cause.

For more on the study visit the Environmental Action Network.

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