CHICAGO — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has cited a Chicago facility after finding high levels of brain-damaging manganese in a low-income neighborhood.

Data posted online Monday by the federal agency show that air quality monitors around the S.H. Bell Co. facility recorded violations of federal health standards on almost 40 percent of the days that samples were collected, the Chicago Tribune reported .

The violations of the federal Clean Air Act prompted the EPA to cite the company.

S.H. Bell officials said more than two dozen other facilities handling manganese could also be responsible. A S.H. Bell spokeswoman said the levels should drop below the federal limit after the facility finishes installing a new dust-collection system this month.

About 20,000 people live within a mile of the facility.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Public Health Department officials said Monday that they’ll expand efforts to reduce manganese exposure in the southeast part of the city.

“Just as we held petcoke handlers to higher standards, we will ensure that companies either clean up or shut down,” Emanuel said.

The findings come three years after investigators discovered the Pittsburgh-based company’s pollution while examining petroleum coke at two nearby sites.

Manganese is an element used to make steel stronger and more rust resistant. Regular exposure to the element can cause manganism, a condition with symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease, and can make it more difficult for children to learn and memorize information.


Information from: Chicago Tribune, http://www.chicagotribune.com