About Mossville (Calcasieu Parish), Louisiana

Contraband Bayou, LA

Calcasieu Parish is the location for a large number of companies that produce organic chemicals, including petroleum-based chemicals and chlorinated hydrocarbon solvents. Mossville is a small community in Calcasieu Parish midway between the larger communities of Westlake and Sulphur. In these communities people live, work, and play near the chemical plants.

History of ATSDR’s Involvement

In 1997, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asked ATSDR to review the results of blood tests for a few residents of the parish. These tests indicated elevated levels of dioxin in some samples.

In response to the test results and community concerns, ATSDR conducted an exposure investigation, which is a technique ATSDR scientists use to better characterize the potential exposure of people to hazardous substances. Blood samples were collected from 28 Mossville residents. These samples were analyzed for dioxin. Test results indicated elevated levels of dioxin in some samples.

To follow up on these findings, ATSDR:

  • Conducted investigations to understand more about current and past exposures to dioxins. These investigations included information about dioxin levels in residents’ homes and local environments, including dust, air, soil, water, homegrown fruits and vegetables, and locally caught fish.
    • ATSDR did not find elevated levels of dioxins in Mossville’s dust, soil, air, water or homegrown fruits and vegetables.
    • ATSDR found elevated levels of dioxins in some local fish and recommends following local fish advisories.
  • Re-sampled the blood of Mossville residents who had participated in previous exposure investigations. Although ATSDR found elevated levels of blood dioxins, the levels had decreased in most participants. Their dioxin levels were not high enough to cause health concerns.
  • Conducted a study to determine whether Calcasieu Parish residents had been exposed to unusual levels of dioxins, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). ATSDR tested the blood of Calcasieu Parish residents and did not find levels of dioxins, VOCs or PCBs that would cause health concerns.
  • Worked with EPA, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, and the community to present a symposium on environmental health for more than 360 doctors and nurses in the parish.
  • Conducted community meetings to involve EPA and community groups in the process.
  • Offered free health classes to community members to share information about environmental health and health concerns. The classes were based on health questions shared by residents.
Page last reviewed: August 11, 2015