by Tom Lent
A manufacturer of PVC pipe, vinyl siding and other building and consumer products is now reportedly the number one source of dioxin releases in the country. A recent assessment of the EPA's Toxics Release Inventory, by the Institute for Southern Studies identified Westlake Vinyls in Calvert City, KY as the worst dioxin polluter in 2010, reporting releases of over 14,000 grams -- more than 31 pounds -- of dioxins and dioxin-like compounds to surface waters in 2010 alone. Dioxins are among the most potent toxicants known to science, very persistent and bioaccumulative with health concerns including cancer and reproductive toxicity. Current European exposure limits range as low as 1 picogram per kilogram of body weight per day - one-trillionth of a gram. The EPA is expected to suggest even lower limits in its long awaited upcoming dioxin reassessment.
Westlake reports that it “is an integrated manufacturer of PVC pipe. Other end uses include pipe fittings, vinyl sidings, bottles, flexible and rigid film and sheeting used for packaging, credit cards and wall coverings.”
Tom Lent is a researcher with the Pharos Project and the policy director of the Healthy Building Network.