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EPA moves to set stricter rules for Sterigenics, other sterilization companies using cancer-causing ethylene oxide

Chicago Tribune
March 14, 2024

Nearly two decades after federal scientists concluded ethylene oxide is far more dangerous than previously thought, President Joe Biden’s administration is moving to dramatically reduce emissions from a small but important industry sector that relies on the cancer-causing gas to fumigate medical products and spices.

Regulations unveiled Thursday by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency would require commercial sterilization operations to reduce ethylene oxide emissions by 90%, largely by installing pollution-control equipment already required in Illinois and a handful of other states.

The once-obscure industry drew attention in 2018 when the EPA reported some of the nation’s highest cancer risks from toxic air pollution could be found in communities near manufacturers and users of ethylene oxide, also known as EtO. Some of the most alarming results came from west suburban Willowbrook and north suburban Waukegan.

Read more of Michael Hawthorne's reporting about EtO and Sterigenics in the Chicago Tribune.

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