17% of people live near toxic release facilities—here's how it breaks down in the Four States

17% of people live near toxic release facilities—here’s how it breaks down by state.

The Supreme Court on June 30 reduced the capability of the EPA to regulate carbon emissions of state power plants in its ruling on West Virginia vs. EPA. Beyond the ruling’s impact on U.S. climate goals, it will also have ramifications for the people who live near power plants. Electricity generation is the second largest contributor to carbon emissions in the U.S., and exposure to pollutants from power plants heightens the risk of respiratory and cardiac health conditions.

Corporate sites across the U.S. are releasing toxins into the surrounding land, air, and water—with many people living in affected communities unaware of the damage being caused. After an accidental release from a chemical plant in West Virginia chemical plant in 1985, Congress passed the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act. The act established the EPA Toxic Release Inventory, which provides citizens with crucial information on what toxins are being emitted in their areas and which companies are doing the emitting. The TRI has allowed certain states to put emission-curbing legislation in place to safeguard public health, such as when Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker passed legislation in 2019 allocating $2.4 billion to climate change resilience.

The EPA’s TRI program currently recognizes 770 chemicals; any site that manufactures or uses these chemicals at above-average levels qualifies for listing in the TRI. Chemicals described by the TRI as “toxic” are known to cause cancer or other negative health issues, as well as adverse effects on the environment. Facilities report the amounts of chemicals they release annually to the TRI, with the “release” of a chemical meaning it is “emitted to the air or water, or placed in some type of land disposal.”

The facilities in the TRI are usually quite large and deal in electricity, metals, mining, chemicals, or hazardous waste. However, not all toxic chemicals used by corporations are listed in the TRI, meaning its inventory of toxin-emitting sites is not exhaustive.

Stacker analyzed data from the EPA Toxic Release Inventory and the U.S. Census Bureau’s five-year American Community Survey to identify the percent of each state’s population living in census tracts with toxic release sites, as well as the corporations and facilities responsible for emitting the highest amounts of toxins annually. These results reflect the last full year of data, 2020, from the 2020 National Analysis Dataset released in October 2021.

Read on to discover where the most toxins are being released in the Four States, what part of your environment they may be polluting, and who is being affected.

4. Oklahoma

  • Population living near toxic release sites: 20.3%
    — 18.3% of state’s white population
    — 21.0% of state’s Hispanic population
    — 18.4% of state’s Black population
    — 22.4% of state’s Native American population
    — 15.0% of state’s Asian population
    — 15.8% of state’s Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander population
  • Total number of sites: 362

Oklahoma’s biggest toxin-emitting site is a paper manufacturer: the International Paper facility released 5.9 million pounds of pollutants, mainly into the air, in 2020. Of the chemicals emitted into the atmosphere in Oklahoma in 2020, 50% was ammonia, 29% methanol, and 5% toluene.

3. Missouri

  • Population living near toxic release sites: 21.7%
    — 21.9% of state’s white population
    — 24.1% of state’s Hispanic population
    — 15.3% of state’s Black population
    — 28.2% of state’s Native American population
    — 14.4% of state’s Asian population
    — 24.3% of state’s Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander population
  • Total number of sites: 507

Combination mine-and-mills comprised four of five of Missouri’s top toxin-emitting sites in 2020. The biggest offenders were facilities in Buick (over 11 million pounds), Brushy Creek (over 6.7 million pounds), Sweetwater (about 3.8 million pounds), and Fletcher (about 3.2 million pounds). The vast majority of toxins were released into the land.

2. Kansas

  • Population living near toxic release sites: 25.0%
    — 23.4% of state’s white population
    — 24.6% of state’s Hispanic population
    — 15.8% of state’s Black population
    — 28.5% of state’s Native American population
    — 15.4% of state’s Asian population
    — 31.4% of state’s Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander population
  • Total number of sites: 322

Of the 15.9 million pounds of toxins released on-site in 2020 in Kansas, 10 million pounds went into the air, 1.3 million pounds into the water, and 4.5 million pounds into the land. PQ Corporation was responsible for 5 million pounds, the most in the state. Second was Koch Fertilizer Dodge City, which released over 3 million pounds.

1. Arkansas

  • Population living near toxic release sites: 27.1%
    — 24.0% of state’s white population
    — 41.7% of state’s Hispanic population
    — 27.4% of state’s Black population
    — 30.3% of state’s Native American population
    — 25.1% of state’s Asian population
    — 69.3% of state’s Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander population
  • Total number of sites: 341

Arkansas’ 2020 toxin amounts were primarily due to three paper distributors. Evergreen Packaging released over 2.7 million pounds that year; Clean Harbors El Dorado LLC, over 2.2 million pounds; and Domtar’s Ashdown mill, with 2.1 million pounds.

Local business is expanding to help out more families

PITTSBURG, Kan – Friday, Integrated Behavioral Technologies started construction to expand their facilities in hopes of helping out more families.

Since 2010, Integrated Behavioral Technologies (IBT) has been providing in-home applied behavior analysis services to autistic children and families in Pittsburg and Southeast Kansas.

The SEK team is happy to move out of the little clinic’s three rooms and into a bigger space that will be more accommodating for its personnel, customers’ families, and staff members.

Early in 2023, IBT and Sonshine Child Care will open a new facility to provide clinic-based services for families and kids affected by autism.

The clinic, which will be 2385 square feet in size, could serve up to 30 families.

Despite being based in Pittsburg, IBT expects that residents of nearby cities will contact them for services.

IBT was founded in 2002 to address Kansas’s almost complete lack of autism treatment resources, where 48% of the population is thought to reside in rural areas.

IBT has expanded from Dr. Heitzman-Powell and a small group of professionals working with a small number of families to a business that employs over 75 clinical staff throughout the State of Kansas.

Director Dr. Linda Heitzman-Powell, IBT Founder and Executive, is very excited about the SEK Clinic.

“Since 2014 we have talked about opening a bricks-and-mortar structure in the area with the identification of a site as a part of our 5-year plan. Not only is this a site where families can enroll their children for evidence-based treatment, this is a facility that is specifically designed to address the needs of children with autism and their families from age of first diagnosis until they transition into adulthood,” says Dr. Paige Boydston.

Boydston has been providing services to families in the Southeast Kansas area since 2011. She’s relieved to finally be able to provide greater access to services in a severely underserved area of Kansas.

“Hopefully this center will be a resource to families not only in Pittsburg, but also in the surrounding cities and counties. One of my personal goals is to help train and retain providers and professionals in the SEK area so our work can continue to expand and provide some much needed support to families.”

Pastor Talent and the IBT team are eager to collaborate with Sonshine ChildCare Facility to provide services that are desperately needed in the SEK area.

“Victory Life Church is grateful to be part of this ground-floor opportunity to bring two much needed services together for our community. We know that I.B.T., under the direction of Dr Linda Heitzman-Powell, Dr. Paige Boydston and Jon Durney, has worked diligently to provide services for those individuals with autism and their families in South-East Kansas. We are excited to be a part of this wonderful community project and we look forward to many years of growth and partnership.”

IBT is open to serving anyone in Southeast Kansas and has served families in Pittsburg, Parsons, Ft. Scott, Chanute, Carl Junction MO, and Frontenac.


Around 200 sick in an SEK school district; cleaning scheduled

OSWEGO, Kan. – A 4-State school district closes for the rest of the week starting tomorrow due to hundreds being out sick.

According to Superintendent Mitchell Shaw, USD 504 in Oswego, Kansas, has around 200 students and staff sick. Besides general sickness, some are ill with RSV and Influenza A.

One school has 44 percent of students out. School officials met with the board and health officials to organize a deep clean in all buildings ahead of Monday.

The district has canceled school and all school activities for Thursday and Friday (Dec. 8-9).

At this time, classes and activities are planned to resume on Monday, December 12.

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Local Graduate Nurses continue their education through local hospitals

JOPLIN, Mo. – Local Graduate Nurses were recognized today at Freeman Hospital for their recent accomplishments.

25 local GNs from Crowder College’s Nursing Program have already completed 2 years of schooling as they work to become RNs.

Like a sports signing, these students signed contracts to begin working and gaining experience through local hospital-student programs.

Click here to learn more.

Local mother donates extra breast milk

JOPLIN, Mo – One Joplin mother has been breastfeeding her 4-month-old son since birth.

Paige Karnes only pumps to make sure she knows how much milk her son Atlas is getting.

She wanted to start stocking up and realized she had an abundance of milk.

After deciding to make a post on Facebook saying she has extra and wanted to donate and sell some,  she never knew how much of a response she would have.

Taehler Pupo from Galeana is just one of many mothers who reached out to Paige for help.

With her milk supply decreasing and her daughter Ezra not being able to take formula she went through her freezer stock fast and needed help.

Paige started out with 4,300oz of milk, given or sold around 1,800oz, and has about 2,000 more ounces to donate.


If you want to reach out to Paige Karnes you can find her Facebook here.

You can always contact your local Health Department for a lactation consultant for any help when it comes to breastfeeding.


Freeman discusses health care options for lower-income families

JOPLIN, Mo. – Freeman Health System is helping locals get the right health insurance for themselves and their families thanks to a new law.

This year, Employees who cannot afford health care plans from their employer that include the entire family are allowed to enroll in the Affordable Care Act.

Officials say the affordable rate is 9.5 percent of applicants’ income.

That being said, health insurance that exceeds 9.5 percent of income is considered unaffordable and the person can get tax credits from the ACA.

Watch KOAM & Fox 14 Evening News to see the whole story or check back later for additional content.


Two local farms team up to bring organic farming to high schools

PITTSBURG, Ks. – Leafy Green Farms and Community Green Farms are joining together to bring vertical hydroponic farms to 10 high schools to Southeast Kansas.

“We hope that by working through the schools we can help achieve our goal of moving the nutritional needle and fulfill the objective that access to quality food should not be dictated by income levels,” said the two in a joint statement.

Each vertical farm can grow up to two acres of produce a year, giving the schools and surrounding communities fresh produce throughout the year.


For more information on the organizations click here.

Missouri Magazine donates funds to Joplin cancer foundation

JOPLIN, Mo. – Show Me the Ozarks today presented a check to Joplin’s Hope 4 You, a cancer foundation.

The Missouri-based magazine traveled to Joplin today, meeting officials with Hope 4 You at the area Chamber of Commerce.

Money was raised through the magazine’s ‘Covers for a Cause’ campaign, held in late October at Freeman Health System.

Freeman officials say the funds will help ensure local uninsured and underinsured women are able to get mammograms at little or no cost.

Since 2007, Hope 4 You has raised nearly $600,000 for this cause.

Watch KOAM & Fox 14 to learn more or check back later for additional video content.

Click here to learn more.

Mental health center awarded $10,000 in Riverton, Kan.

TOPEKA, Kan. – A Riverton organization has been awarded a grant from the Tower Foundation to support mental health services, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt announced today.

Spring River Mental Health and Wellness Center was awarded $10,000 to assist with the transition to and/or implementation of requirements for the new designation of being a certified community behavioral health clinic (CCBHC).

The CCBHC model is being implemented in Kansas and will provide more resources to participating clinics and improve the care the clinics are able to provide to Kansas citizens.

The Tower Mental Health Foundation of Kansas was created as a result of an agreement between the attorney general’s office and the Menninger Foundation in 2007.

It offers support to organizations that provide mental health services in Kansas

Click here to learn more.

Start a new tradition of giving lifesaving blood, find resources here

Outside of flu and cold season, it’s also the time of year when blood banks experience a drop in life-saving blood donations.

The American Red Cross says as they see an increase in the number of people getting sick and not being eligible to donate, the demand for blood stays constant. They also remind people that there are no deferral periods after getting either the flu or Covid shot or any boosters.

Dr. Lasky, the Medical Director for the American Red Cross, says there needs to be a constant flow of donors to maintain the blood supply. “Unlike other lifesaving treatments, blood donations cannot be stockpiled. Red cells have a shelf life of 42 days. Platelets, five days.”

The Red Cross estimates only about 3% of people eligible donate blood yearly. They encourage you to start a new tradition this holiday season, of giving blood.

You can find ways to donate blood below.

Community Blood Center of the Ozarks

Ahead of Thanksgiving, the Community Blood Center of the Ozarks is offering a chance to win for those who donated blood on November 23, 2022.

“[CBCO] is offering blood donors the opportunity to help others and pick up one of the hottest gifts of the holiday season. One lucky donor that gives at a CBCO donor center on Wednesday, November 23 will win a new iPhone 14.”

“All participants who donate during the Thanks-for-Giving Blood Drive, will be automatically entered into a drawing for an all new, unlocked 128GB midnight iPhone 14. Valued at more than $800. The Thanks-for-Giving Blood Drive is sponsored by Certified Financial Advisor, Michael Vaughn with Pinnacle Family Advisors. Donors will also receive a Kansas City Chiefs T-shirt, while supplies last.” – CBCO

The Community Blood Center of the Ozarks is the sole supplier of blood, platelets and plasma to patients at 44 area healthcare facilities.

The Thanks-for-Giving blood drive is only available at the Community Blood Center of the Ozarks Donor Centers. Special donation hours are in effect on Wednesday, November 23, with the Joplin Donor Center open from 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM.

Community Blood Center of the Ozarks Donor Centers will be closed on Thursday, November 24 and Friday, November 25 in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday. The donor center will reopen Monday, November 28.

To help avoid wait times, appointments are strongly encouraged. Donors can schedule an appointment at www.cbco.org/donate-blood.

“The holiday season represents a time when blood donations can fall off and blood inventory levels for local hospitals can become low,” CBCO Media Relations Representative Michelle Teter said. “The Thanks-for-Giving blood drive gives the community the opportunity to provide some support and goodwill for their friends, family, and neighbors during a time when most of us can give thanks for our good health. The need for blood never takes a holiday, so thanks to our local community partner, Michael Vaughn with Pinnacle Family Advisors, we are able to offer our donors a chance to win the hot new iPhone when they give the gift of life in preparation for a holiday weekend.”

American Red Cross

“Whether you’re A, B, AB or O – or unknown – all types of blood are valuable and can help save lives,” states the American Red Cross. “The most important thing is that you are willing to make this generous, life-saving donation.”

Who can you help by donating blood?

“Every day, blood donors help patients of all ages: accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and those battling cancer. In fact, every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood.”

The Red Cross says you can shake up your holiday tradition by giving blood. This year, they encourage making it a new holiday habit and inviting those you love to join you.

“Blood, platelets and plasma are always needed, and your lifesaving gift could have a very big impact.”

“During this season of gift-giving, we hope you’ll start a new tradition of giving the ultimate gift of lifesaving blood. Gather a group of friends or family, schedule at your local drive or donation center and spend your holidays knowing that your new tradition may help patients feel well enough to enjoy their own holiday traditions as well. What could be a better gift than that?”

You can find local blood drives organized by the American Red Cross here.

You can go to the Blood Donor AppRedCrossBlood.org, or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to schedule an appointment.