Local activists are calling on state and federal agencies to help reduce the amount of toxic chemicals pumped into the air in Tonawanda. EPA data shows DuPont's Yerkes Plant, near the intersection of River Road and Sheridan Drive, is a major polluter.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency's latest Toxic Release Inventory report, DuPont emits nearly 194,000 pounds of methyl methacrylate, and more than 27,000 pounds of vinyl fluoride.
"Both of these chemicals can cause serious health problems. We've had complaints from our membership who live in the area, along with hearing complaints from some of the workers, that there's issues regarding potential exposure to liver and kidneys," Clean Air Coalition organizer Rebecca Newberry says.
"There's complaints of headaches, nausea from folks living in that area. And so we know that both of these chemicals can contribute to those things."
Newberry says the issue is being raised now because DuPont is seeking to renew its air permit which is good for five years. The Clean Air Coalition and the Western New York Council for Occupational Health and Safety are demanding New York's Department of Environmental Conservation set fair rules.
"And make sure that the monitoring requirements and the technologies are put in place to reduce any potential exposure to the community and to the work force," she told WBFO.
Newberry says a 2013 state health department study found elevated levels of a number of cancers and negative birth outcomes, including pre-term births and heart defects, in residents living near the plant.