HARMFUL RELEASES IN 1988 TOTALED 1.3 BILLION POUNDS

HARMFUL RELEASES IN 1988 TOTALED 1.3 BILLION POUNDS

Industrial plants released more than 1.3 billion pounds of chemicals suspected or known to be linked to birth defects in 1988, with the largest amount coming from the petrochemical belt of Texas, an environmental group said Thursday.

Industrial facilities emitted more than 4.6 billion pounds of hazardous chemicals into the air, water and onto the ground in 1988, about half of it into the air, according to EPA figures released earlier this year.The analysis by Citizen Action, based on the same EPA statistics, showed that nearly one-third of the chemicals released - about 1.3 billion pounds - have either been shown to cause birth defects or are strongly suspected to have such a link. Most of these releases were into the air.

A large percentage of the releases cited by Citizen Action involved industrial solvents such as toluene and xylene, which medical experts say could pose health problems if a person is chronically exposed or exposed to large amounts.