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Kemp's office: EPD investigating cancer-causing chemical coming from 2 plants

Thursday night, Covington residents met for the first time to discuss the toxin.

COVINGTON, Ga. — Gov. Brian Kemp's office confirmed the Georgia Environmental Protection Division will investigate a toxic chemical that is being released by two plants in metro Atlanta.

Officials told 11Alive on Friday that the EPD, which is an agency that reports directly to the governor, is the entity overseeing regulation and the investigation of the matter. 

In July, an article WebMD published warned about the level of ethylene oxide released by Sterigenics in Cobb County, near Smyrna, and a separate company, BD, in Covington. 

WebMD reports that after Kemp's staff learned about the emissions, they reached out the EPD to get more information about the sterilization plants and their processes. 

In recent years, the United States Environmental Protection Agency updated its classification for ethylene oxide from "Likely to cause cancer" to "Definitely causes cancer." 

The gas is used to sterilize medical equipment.

RELATED: What is ethylene oxide?

When neighbors learned about the emissions, it stirred up outrage that they were not notified of the increased cancer risks. Residents in both communities have been holding meetings.

Tuesday night, Smyrna residents gathered at Campbell Middle School to hear from the president of Sterigencis and find out more about the plant and ethylene oxide. And Thursday night, Covington residents met for the first time, packing a church.

READ: 'Trust is totally broken': Smyrna residents meet with plant accused of releasing cancer-causing toxin

Attendees expressed what they want in the community.

BD said, in a statement in July, they meet or exceed all local, state and federal ethylene oxide emission standards in Covington

Read their statement below.

The president of Sterigenics noted that the company's use of ethylene oxide falls within the Environmental Protection Agency's limits. Both Sterigenics and BD are allowed to self-report the results of their own testing to the EPA.

Friday morning, State Rep. Pam Dickerson issued a statement regarding emissions coming from the BD plant.

“Independent testing of ethylene oxide emissions [in the state of Georgia] is the only reasonable way to guard against the potential cancer caused by this dangerous chemical," Dickerson said. "I strongly support funding of this testing by the State of Georgia and local governments. We should all work together to understand what we are facing.”

RELATED: 

'I can't just stand by' | Neighbors prepare to fight against plant releasing cancer-causing toxin

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