Eleven state attorneys general are urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to impose stricter regulations over commercial operations that emit ethylene oxide (EtO), a widely used medical device sterilant gas.
The EPA, which considers EtO a carcinogen, has been fielding comments on it in light of public outcry over emissions from medtech sterilization plants during the past year.
Illinois attorney general Kwame Raoul ordered a Sterigenics EtO plant in Willowbrook closed one year ago because of concerns over emissions. The plant used EtO to sterilize millions of devices annually, beginning in 1984. Willowbrook area residents and workers have filed more more than 76 lawsuits against the company claiming EtO exposure caused cancer and other health problems. Citizens, local and state officials in Georgia and Michigan, which have EtO plants operated by companies such as Sterigenics and BD, have also been clamoring for tighter regulations.
Raoul and 10 other attorneys general signed a comment letter arguing that the EPA’s current National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) fail to adequately protect workers and communities from the harmful effects of EtO.