What Is ‘Cancer Alley’?

Petrochemical Plant in Cancer Alley Area of Louisiana
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Nobody should have to live in fear knowing that the community they call home can make them seriously ill. And yet, people in St. John the Baptist Parish and other communities in Louisiana along the Mississippi River must face this fear every day.

This section of the country is known as “Cancer Alley” because cancer rates among residents are significantly higher than in other areas of the country – 50 times higher, to be exact. Cancer has taken a devastating toll on generations of people in the river parishes of Louisiana. Now, with the ongoing threat of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, people who are already sick face an added risk of contracting a potentially deadly virus.

Patrick Daniel Law is proud to be an advocate for those living in St. John the Baptist Parish and other communities in “Cancer Alley.” Our founder and principal, Patrick Daniel, began his law practice in Louisiana, and he maintains close ties to communities throughout the state.

Team members at our law firm are currently in St. John the Baptist Parish meeting with residents to discuss their legal rights and options. To learn more about how we can help, please call (713) 999-6666 today for a free consultation.

The Origins of ‘Cancer Alley’

For decades, corporations have been opening petrochemical plants on land along the Mississippi River. These plants manufacture materials such as styrofoam and neoprene. The manufacturing process results in the emission of toxic chemicals such as chloroprene, ethylene oxide, and more.

According to a joint report by ProPublica and The Times-Picayune/The Advocate, the EPA estimates that areas such as St. John the Baptist Parish and St. Charles Parish have some of the highest concentrations in the nation of chemicals that cause cancer. A yellowish mist permeates the air at night when plants release chemicals into the air. Residents wake up to lawns covered by a sickly residue and – sometimes – dead birds.

Although “official” studies on cancer trends in these areas of Louisiana are generally deemed inconclusive, residents of the communities in Cancer Alley know differently. And they are telling their stories.

Residents report not only higher cancer rates but increased numbers of miscarriages. The omnipresent toxic chemicals in the air, water, and ground elevate the risk for other health problems, including respiratory illnesses.

The COVID-19 Crisis

The coronavirus outbreak has affected communities throughout the United States and around the world. However, due to the high rates of cancer and high levels of toxic chemicals in “Cancer Alley,” residents are at a significant disadvantage in warding off this highly contagious respiratory illness.

St. John the Baptist Parish has the highest number of COVID-19 deaths of any U.S. county. One expert told The Guardian that “Being in areas of higher exposure to common air pollutants … does increase the risk of acquiring pneumonia. So to the extent that Covid behaves in a similar way to bacterial pneumonia, which is more common, or other viral pneumonias, we have evidence that long-term exposure … increases your susceptibility to acquiring the disease.”

One of the areas of highest concern is Reserve and nearby areas such as LaPlace, Louisiana, which is home to the Denka petrochemical plant. Formerly owned and operated by DuPont, the area around the Denka plant is a major cancer cluster. Although communities throughout St. John the Baptist Parish are at risk, those who live near or work at the Denka plant may be at the highest risk of all.

Coronavirus & ‘Cancer Alley’

Although many cases of COVID-19 present with minimal or even no symptoms, residents of “Cancer Alley” who are already at a higher risk may be more likely to exhibit symptoms such as:

  • Persistent cough
  • Sore throat
  • Labored breathing
  • Wheezing
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Aches and pains
  • Watering or irritation of the eyes

Some of these symptoms overlap with those of cancer, which can make it difficult for residents who are already sick to recognize if they have also contracted coronavirus.

If you experience symptoms like the above, it is important to visit the doctor as soon as possible. If you have already been diagnosed with cancer, you are at risk of developing pneumonia, serious respiratory infection, and other complications.

The same is true for any loved ones, whether they have been diagnosed with cancer or not. If the worst-case scenario occurs and you lose a family member, be sure to demand an autopsy. An autopsy will reveal if your loved one’s death occurred as a result of coronavirus, as well as the presence of cancer that may have contributed to their passing.

Contact Patrick Daniel Law If You Live in ‘Cancer Alley’

Patrick Daniel Law is committed to pursuing justice on behalf of residents in St. John the Baptist Parish and other communities in Louisiana’s “Cancer Alley.” We believe that the evidence showing increased cancer risk due to petrochemical industry pollution is overwhelming, and we intend to hold the companies in these areas accountable for the harm they are causing families.

If you are facing any of the following situations, please don’t hesitate to contact Patrick Daniel Law:

  • You or a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer, and you suspect it is a result of toxic chemicals in your community.
  • You live in a high-risk area and you or a loved one contracted coronavirus.
  • You or a loved one suffered complications from COVID-19 because you already have cancer or another condition associated with toxic exposure.

Please call (713) 999-6666 for immediate assistance in St. John the Baptist Parish. Members of our staff are already in the community, and we can arrange for a free and 100% safe consultation.

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