SOUTH CHICAGO — City officials will study the impact of pollution created by steel production on residents of the Southeast Side, where more than 20,000 new homes could be built, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Monday.
The study will measure the presence of manganese, an element that is used in steel production, in the area's soil, water and air, officials said. While small amounts of the nutrient can be found in whole grains and green leafy vegetables, inhaling large amounts of manganese can impair neurological functioning, according to federal officials.
"Holding these companies accountable is about protecting the health of our children, our communities and our environment," Emanuel said in a statement. "We will ensure that companies either clean up or shut down."
While the study is completed, city officials will step up inspections of S.H. Bell, a bulk storage firm, and other industrial sites on Chicago’s Southeast Side, according to the mayor's statement.
The Environmental Protection Agency Monday cited S.H. Bell for exceeding a federal threshold for emissions of toxic manganese dust, as first reported by WTTW.
S.H. Bell officials said in a statement that they welcome the increased scrutiny and "a more comprehensive look at all companies in the area handling manganese, 27 that we know of" was needed "to fully evaluate the air quality in our community."
Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza (10th) said the residents of the Southeast Side would work to protect their "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," Sadlowski Garza said. "We will continue to work together, with city leaders and community activists, to ensure our air, water and soil are clean."