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Louisiana Waterways Among Most Polluted in Country

Louisiana’s rivers and streams are among the most toxic in the nation, according to a report by the Environment America Research and Policy Center. The toxic chemicals released into waterways include nitrates, dioxins and other poisonous chemicals. These toxins can cause cancer, birth defects, infertility, neurological problems and a host of other severe health issues.

The report used information from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to compile data about toxic pollutants in all fifty states. Louisiana ranked third in gross amount of toxic substances dumped into waterways and second when weighted for toxicity.

Some of these chemicals can contaminate local water supplies, making them unsafe to drink or swim in. In other cases, the chemicals can accumulate in organisms like fish and birds for many years, contaminating the entire food chain.

The biggest offender in Louisiana is ExxonMobil, which released nearly 2 million pounds of toxic waste in 2012 from just one Baton Rouge refinery. Other big polluters include meat and poultry processing plants.

The study looked at overall toxic releases by weight in each state and in specific waterway systems, such as the lower Mississippi River. Major groups of polluting chemicals included nitrates and hydrogen sulfides.

Critical Water Contaminants

  • Nitrates
  • Hydrogen sulfides
  • Dioxins
  • Arsenic
  • Mercury

The report also examined the side effects of pollutants, and weighted the totals accordingly. Some of the chemicals are less toxic in small quantities. Others, like arsenic and dioxins, can cause long-term health problems with just a small amount of exposure.

Lake Maurepas, which lies between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, was the second most polluted by cancer causing chemicals and toxins that affect development.

Health Problems Associated with Water Toxins

  • Cancer – abnormal cellular growth that can result in death
  • Reproductive problems – inability or reduced ability to have children
  • Developmental problems – neurological, hormonal and immune system disorders
  • Birth defects – cleft lip, cleft palate and heart abnormalities

Have you or a loved one suffered health problems due to water contamination? You may be able to pursue a claim against the negligent company. Contact the experienced Louisiana environmental damage lawyers at Simien & Simien today for a free consultation. We will work to get you the justice you deserve.