Ordinance to Restrict Manganese Introduced at Chicago’s City Council

The City of Chicago introduced an ordinance that provides some measures to restrict new manganese operations within city limits. While the ordinance does not cut the volume of manganese, a dangerous neurotoxin, currently stored and handled by facilities in the city, advocates acknowledged the new rule as a step in the right direction.  

A lack of state or federal action in recent months has prompted residents to call on the City to take stronger measures to protect the health of residents from neurotoxic manganese pollution. The ordinance comes after the City’s Department of Public Health required a stricter dust control plan for a major bulk handler of manganese and denied an exception to air monitoring for another.

According to the City, the ordinance will ban any new manganese handling facilities and limit the expansion of existing manganese operations with a carve out for "manufacturing establishments." The manganese ordinance resembles a 2014 ordinance that cracked down on petcoke mounds piled in the same Southeast Side neighborhood where manganese has sparked controversy. A hearing is set to be scheduled in the following weeks.

The following is a joint statement from the Southeast Side Coalition to Ban Petcoke (SSCBP), the Southeast Environmental Task Force (SETF), Moms Clean Air Force (MCAF), Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Northwestern Pritzker Law's Environmental Advocacy Clinic, Chicago Legal Clinic, The People’s Lobby, National Nurses United (NNU), and Reclaim Chicago:

“This ordinance is an important step in preventing more of this neurotoxin in our community, but it doesn’t go far enough. We are happy that the Mayor’s ordinance can help prevent the problem from getting worse and that companies must report the amount of neurotoxic manganese that is coming in and out of the community. However, the City must step up to address the harm that has already been caused to families, in addition to the health threat posed by current operations.

“Putting the brakes on more manganese operations in our community is crucial, but we also need a proactive plan to foster a cleaner, greener Southeast Side and not an approach that replaces one dirty industry with another. We need a comprehensive plan that will address the cumulative burden of industrial pollution in the Southeast Side.”


The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.