24501: Toxic zip code according to new report

Lynchburg, VA- A Lynchburg zip code ranks as one of the top 15 most toxic in the state, according to a report released by the Sierra Club's Virginia Chapter. The report, using data compiled from the EPA's Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) states that in 2012 residents in 24501 were exposed to over a quarter million pounds of toxic toluene in the air they breathed. Most of it, being released by the commercial printing plant, R R Donnelly. R R Donnelly prints sales catalogs for Victoria's Secret and Avon Cosmetics.{}According to the U.S. EPA's Chemical Fact Sheet on Toluene, "breathing large amounts of toluene for short periods of time adversely affects the human nervous system, the kidneys, the liver and the heart."{}The report lists Covington, VA (24426) as the zip code with the highest levels of toxic emissions. However, Glen Besa, Virginia Chapter Director of the Sierra Club, says it's not the pounds per se of toxic emissions that people should be worried about, but the type of chemical. "There's a lot of zip codes in Virginia-but 300 thousand pounds of this chemical, particularly is of concern." He said that the damage that toluene can cause, is why residents in Lynchburg should be concerned.{}

Besa, says the report is meant to "start a conversation" with Lynchburg residents and those in industry and legislation. He also told ABC 13 that there are other ways to do business. "They can actually institute measures to reduce emissions. They can also substitute other chemicals, like soy ink and things like that."{}

Lynchburg city manager, Kimball Payne told ABC 13 that as far as he knew no state or federal regulations were being violated by R R Donnelly or any of the other companies listed in the report for the 24501 zip code. "If the Sierra Club wants to initiate a conversation with Congress or the EPA (to tighten regulations) that's fine," Payne said in a phone interview.{}

Besa, said that regulations are "light," and he'd like to see changes.{}

Phone calls to representatives by ABC 13, were not returned Wednesday.{}