St. Louis Public Radio News
6:40 pm
Wed June 24, 2009

Metro East has some of the worst air in the country, according to EPA report

St. Louis, MO – A report released on Wednesday by the Environmental Protection Agency ranks Madison County, Illinois as having the second highest risk of pollution-related cancer in the country.

The report listed Madison County as having a cancer rate of 1100 cases per 1 million residents, second only to Los Angeles with 1200 cases. The national average is 36 per 1 million.

Kathleen Logan-Smith of the Missouri Coalition for the Environment notes that EPA report raises concerns for more than just Madison County.

"The pollution doesn't stop at the Madison county line." says Logan-Smith. "So if Madison County is 1100 cancers out of 1 million when it should be 36, what is St. Louis? What is Clayton? What is South City? What is Arnold?"

Jim Ross of the Illinois EPA admits that U.S Steel's coke-making ovens in Granite City are a source of concern.

However, he says the report was based on 2002 data and is not representative of the current situation in Madison County.

"Since this is 2002 data there have been rules and regulations and numerous measures taken to reduce emissions from coke ovens. So certainly today the emissions today are less than they were in 2002," notes Ross.

Ross says the Illinois EPA is working with their national counterparts to see if more specific data can be obtained.