EPA to test air quality after Sterigenics emissions concerns

WILLOWBROOK, Ill. (WLS) -- The Environmental Protection Agency will conduct an air quality study in southwest suburban Willowbrook.

In August the agency found elevated levels of toxic chemicals in the air that are believed to have come from a Sterigenics plant.

Since then, dozens in the surrounding areas have spoken out and filed lawsuits, claiming the company is responsible for health issues that many have faced.

"This is now the 19th largest cancer cluster in the country. This is in the top 1 percent for incidents of cancer. And it's no coincidence," said Jeff Kroll, who is representing some of those clients.

Andrea Thome, wife of former White Sox player Jim Thome, has been a vocal activist on the issue and believes emissions from Sterigenics caused both of her parents to get cancer.

"My mom passed away in October of 2014. She never smoked she never drank," Thome said. "Little did she know there was a factory a mile away poisoning her. None of us knew."

After her mother died, her father took up more outside exercise to cope.

"This Christmas he was diagnosed with a huge brain tumor that, thank God for the doctors at Rush Hospital, Dr. Burn cut out a giant tumor on Christmas Eve and saved my dad's life," she said.

Sterigenics has been operating in Willowbrook for 34 years.

In a previous written statement, the company said it exceeds all compliance goals set by the EPA.
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