Georgia residents in Smyrna and Covington are just now learning that their neighborhoods have an elevated cancer risk because of exposure to airborne toxins.

In August 2018, the Environmental Protection Agency published a report showing 109 census tracts with high concentrations of ethylene oxide, a gas used to sterilize medical equipment. Two use before, the agency placed the chemical on a list of those that “definitely cause cancer.”

On Second Thought host Virginia Prescott speaks with Andy Miller and Dr. Ashli Owen-Smith.

While the EPA report was not well publicized, Andy Miller of Georgia Health News and Brenda Goodman of WebMD just published their investigation, including sources of ethylene oxide and incidences of cancers in Smyrna and Covington.

Andy Miller joined On Second Thought to discuss the report and what makes ethylene oxide so dangerous.

In other health news, Deloitte Consulting Group released an initial report looking at health insurance coverage in Georgia as a part of their state-funded work surrounding Gov. Brian Kemp’s Medicaid waiver program. The report found that approximately 15% of Georgian’s are uninsured, with a disproportionately high number for minorities and young adults.

Dr. Ashli Owen-Smith, professor of health policy and behavior sciences at Georgia State University, joined the conversation to share how the recent report plays into future policies for the state.


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