News Release
News Release Facts


City Services

August 7, 2017


Chicago Department of Public Health will investigate manganese exposure on Chicago’s Southeast Side, protect residents from health risks

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced today that the City is expanding efforts to reduce manganese exposure to residents on the Southeast side. In order to hold producers accountable to the communities where they operate, a new study is investigating all companies who may use manganese and the impact to residents’ health in the area. The city is also increasing scrutiny of company manganese control and evaluating options for further action to those who violate local and federal standards.

"Holding these companies accountable is about protecting the health of our children, our communities and our environment," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. "Just as we held petcoke handlers to high standards, we will ensure that companies either clean up or shut down."

The new study, conducted by a retained consultant, will include modeling of particulate matter, soil and air sampling near homes in the area and an assessment of the potential health risks to residents.

"Ensuring that residents are breathing clean air is our top priority," said Chicago Department of Public Health, Commissioner Dr. Julie Morita. "We are committed to completing thorough and rigorous study so we are able to then make data-informed regulatory recommendations as needed."

In addition to CDPH’s routine inspections and continued monitoring for any off-site dust, the City will evaluate if increased dust control measures for bulk material handlers would lead to decreased manganese exposure for residents. The City will also begin increased inspections of S.H. Bell and other industrial sites on Chicago’s Southeast Side.

"The people of the Southeast Side have a long and proud history. We will not allow any company, no matter how big, to put the health and safety of our community at risk," said Alderman Garza, 10th ward. "We will continue to work together, with city leaders and community activists, to ensure our air, water and soil are clean."

Manganese is a naturally occurring element that is used in steel production. Very small amounts can be found in soil, coal and other resources throughout the U.S. Manganese is an essential nutrient and intake from dietary sources such as whole grains and green leafy vegetables is necessary to maintain normal health. Direct, ongoing inhalation of large amounts of manganese can be hazardous.

Chicago’s current bulk material regulations— for storage and handling—are among the strongest in the nation. Presently, companies that manage bulk materials are required to have fugitive dust plans, which outline dust control measures, such as sprinklers and enclosures, as well as air monitors to ensure the measures are working.

Today’s developments build upon the Mayor’s previous efforts to protect residents and the environment from harmful pollutants. In April 2014, the City Council of Chicago passed an ordinance to ban new petcoke, coke and coal facilities and prohibit the expansion of existing facilities.