Statement from Air Alliance Houston on new EPA standards for cancer-causing air pollution

HOUSTON, TX – On Tuesday (April 9, 2024), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took an important step forward in protecting public health from the known risks of air pollution. The newly updated National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) specifically targets carcinogens emitted from chemical plants, including ethylene oxide, which has been a risk to Houstonians for decades.

In the Houston area, 32 facilities produce these types of air toxics and will now be required to reduce their carcinogenic emissions. These plants are in neighborhoods already burdened with multiple sources of pollution and have elevated cancer risks compared to other parts of Harris County, where such facilities are not located. Baytown, Deer Park, and La Porte all have NESHAP facilities that emit these carcinogens, and all have cancer rates higher than the County average. 

“Today’s new rule is an important reminder that air pollution prevention is cancer prevention,” says Dr. Inyang Uwak, Director of Research & Policy at Air Alliance Houston. “Nationally, the new rule is projected to reduce the number of people with elevated cancer risk by 96% in communities near plants that emit ethylene oxide and chloroprene. Houstonians will be among these beneficiaries, too.”

In addition, the new rule also reduces pollution from flaring by removing the exemptions from pollution control requirements during startup, shutdown, and malfunction. This is significant for our area since excess flaring during these aforementioned plant operations is commonplace. Regardless of what industries may say about this, industrial flares are a danger to the community as they release toxic air pollution by design.

Says Jennifer Hadayia, Executive Director of Air Alliance Houston, “We have been working to raise awareness of the danger of carcinogenic air pollution and other pollution sources for many years, including pushing for a stronger NESHAP. We applaud the EPA’s new rule and hope the facilities do the right thing by complying with the rule and protecting public health. The communities living fenceline to these plants have been exposed to this excess risk to their health for too long.”


Media contact: Riikka Pohjankoski, [email protected], 713 589 7079

About Air Alliance Houston
Air Alliance Houston is a non-profit organization working to reduce the public health impacts of air pollution and advance environmental justice through applied research, education, and advocacy. For more information and resources, please visit  

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