State worried over high carcinogen levels in Georgia city

COVINGTON, Ga. (AP) — State regulators are expressing concern about high levels of a gaseous carcinogen in a Georgia city where a medical sterilization company leaked the chemical last month.

The chief of the air protection branch at the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, Karen Hays, says the elevated levels of ethylene oxide represent an “unacceptable” risk of cancer. The agency also said in a statement Thursday that it regrets not notifying the public about the chemical’s dangers sooner.

The statement came just a day after the city of Covington requested that the company, Becton Dickinson, temporarily stop work over air quality tests. The company has refused.

In August, the state agency announced an air quality monitoring plan for ethylene oxide levels around the Covington plant and a Smyrna plant, Sterigenics, which has since closed.

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