The Cobb County Commission voted Tuesday to spend almost $40,000 to test the air around the Sterigenics plant in Smyrna. At the same time, officials in Covington told 11Alive News they have already committed to testing the air around the BD Bard plant.

A WebMD article published in July cited a report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which found elevated cancer risks in Census tracts in both communities, near the two plants. 

The two companies, which sterilize medical devices, release a cancer-causing toxin - ethylene oxide - into the surrounding air as a part of their production process. This is something that has taken place near both plants for years. The EPA and the companies said their emissions have been within EPA limits. 

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) is expected to require even more stringent emission controls, soon.

Most of the affected areas in Cobb County are in Smyrna, though a few of the affected census tracts are in the city of Atlanta. Cobb officials have said they will work with the city of Smyrna to pay for the testing. 

RELATED: Cancer-causing chemical in 2 Georgia communities leads to more cases of cancer, experts say

Covington said it is currently reviewing companies in hopes to finalize an air testing contract soon.

Census tract map Smyrna Sterigenics
WXIA

RELATED: What is ethylene oxide?

The two companies are required to self-report emissions levels from their plants. Many citizens are asking for legislation to change that.

The news of the increased cancer risk has been met with public outcry in Cobb and Covington. Both communities have held public meetings that have been filled with overflow crowds. 

Those meetings will continue:

Covington public meeting

Aug. 20, 7 p.m. - Historic Covington Courthouse

Cobb County open house and public forum

Aug. 19, 5 p.m.-9 p.m. - Cobb County Civic Center

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