Agencies Were Urged to Address Paramount Metal Emissions Years Before Air Toxics Scare

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The recent discovery of high levels of a cancer-causing pollutant in Paramount has alarmed residents and led authorities to crack down on dangerous emissions from two metal-processing plants.

Damon Honaker keeps watch from his home across the street from Carlton Forge Works. An investigation into toxic emissions from the facility that began years ago recently expanded to other metal businesses in Paramount. (Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Damon Honaker keeps watch from his home across the street from Carlton Forge Works. An investigation into toxic emissions from the facility that began years ago recently expanded to other metal businesses in Paramount. (Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

But the interventions last week by air regulators and health officials followed years of slow and sporadic steps by several agencies in response to health concerns, say residents and activists in the small city southeast of Los Angeles. If regulators had done their jobs properly, they say, they might have found out years ago that toxic emissions from metal businesses were putting neighbors at risk — and taken action.

“You don’t have to be a Sherlock to find the problem — it’s right there in the air,” said Paramount resident Damon Honaker.

Like others in the community, he has complained for years of smoke, dust and acrid odors from nearby metal operations but has noticed no improvement. “We’ve seen more faces, a lot of promises, but nothing getting done,” Honaker said.

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