A polyurethane foam plant operated by Foamex International Inc. in Orange County, Fla., has been charged by an environmental group with releasing large amounts of suspected cancer-causing toxins.
The Florida Public Interest Research Group, one of a U.S. network of such organizations, alleged the factory ranks 19th nationwide in the release of toxic emissions. The organization based its charge on data included in a report prepared by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, made public Jan. 22.
The study claimed that in 2000, about 590,000 pounds of suspected cancer-causing pollutants were released by Foamex's facility in Orange County, which ranks 27th nationally in terms of cancer-causing emissions. The factory also is responsible for toxic releases that may be linked to neurological and respiratory diseases, according to the report, ``Toxic Releases and Health: A Review of Pollution Data and Current Knowledge on the Health Effects of Toxic Chemicals.''
Comparatively, U.S. Sugar Corp.'s mill in Palm Beach County, Fla., in 2000 allegedly released about 792,000 pounds of cancer-causing chemicals and approximately 314,000 pounds of reproductive toxicants, the report said.
Foamex officials couldn't be reached for comment, but a spokeswoman said the company is in compliance with all federal, state and local environmental and safety regulations and is working to improve methods of foam production.
The Tallahassee-based public interest group as yet does not have enough information to know what effects the chemical releases have on the health of Floridians, according to Lisa Shuford, field organizer for the organization. However, it does claim millions of pounds of toxic pollution is being discharged in Florida yearly by a number of firms, and residents have no idea how it's affecting their health.
Florida ranks fifth in the release of suspected respiratory toxicants, 14th in reproductive toxicants, 13th in neurological toxicants and dioxin, and 10th in cancer-causing chemicals, Shuford said.