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 A medical device manufacturing plant in downtown Grand Rapids has left many in the community worried as the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) continues toxic air investigations. Nearly 100 people gathered at Grand Valley State University’s Eberhard Center on March 6 for a meeting hosted by the DEQ to discuss concerns over the air pollution coming from the plant, Viant Medical. Cancer concerns began as the DEQ provided computer models showing high enough levels to pose a long-term health risk of ethelyne oxide (EtO), a known carcinogen, within a 2,000 foot-radius around the Viant plant. In November of 2018, these models showed EtO concentrations of up to 150 times the Environmental Protection Agency’s screening level.

Over the past two years, Viant Medical has been issued four air pollution violation notices and will likely soon face monetary fines as a result of an ongoing investigation by the Air Quality Division that began in August of 2018. The state Department of Health and Human Services has noted that EtO is known to cause breast cancers and blood cancers, including multiple myeloma, leukemia, and non-hodgkin’s lymphoma. Despite this, Viant continuously uses EtO in its plant to sterilize medical equipment and has no plan to discontinue its use until the end of the year according to a letter sent out to residences in the area.

Contamination problems across our Pure Michigan have continued to evolve at a disconcerting rate and have been affecting every corner of the state’s natural resources. Many have undoubtedly stumbled across headlines on the Flint Water Crises, however, many other Michigan cities have been experiencing water contamination such as Ann Arbor, Grayling, and Rockford. Other severe contaminations throughout Michigan include the industrial chemical accident in St. Louis, the contamination at Potterville’s water treatment facilities, and the Legionella bacteria in the water at Spectrum Health Hospital in Hastings.

Although Michigan residents are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of water safety, many are now facing severe consequences as a result of contamination throughout other natural resources that once made this state so pure.

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