Q: Where is the most dangerous air pollution in the country? A: Marietta, Ohio

Q: Who’s the biggest polluter in Marietta?  

The ranking of Marietta as the #1 community for air pollution in the nation confirmed what local residents have been saying for years. Neighbors of the Eramet metal refining plant have complained of strong odors waking them up in the middle of the night, along with nausea, vomiting, nose bleeds, and headaches caused by reactions to the pollution. Neighbors also describe a metallic taste in the back of their throats and having “gritty teeth” when emissions from the plant are high.

Eramet (formerly the Union Carbide complex, then Elkem Metal) uses manganese to strengthen steel products. Eramet dumps over six million pounds of toxic chemicals, including four million pounds of manganese, into the environment each year (Source: U.S. EPA Toxics Release Inventory).

Eramet spews over 312,000 lbs of manganese into the air each year.
Manganese is toxic to the lungs and can cause dizziness, weakness, insomnia, and mental confusion. It also affects the central nervous system, the blood, testes and kidneys. Manganese can cause children to be more hyperactive and increase the likelihood of learning disabilities.

Eramet dumps hundreds of thousands of pounds of chemicals each year into the Ohio River, including 129,600 pounds of manganese, 800,000 pounds of chromium, and 942,000 pounds of ammonia. The Ohio River provides drinking water for five million people.

The region’s status as #1 in air pollution in the nation makes families want to leave the area and discourages new businesses from moving in. Neighbors of the Eramet plant have formed the Neighbors for Clean Air to work for healthy air and water. They want Eramet to be a good neighbor and change their operations to prevent toxic emissions.

Background documents

Letter from Ohio EPA to Federal EPA: Set health standard for manganese, March 7, 2003.
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