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EPA reaches out to communities exposed to ethylene oxide emissions from commercial sterilizers

The EPA made an announcement on August 3 of its plans to address the risks posed by ethylene oxide (EtO) emissions from commercial sterilizers and to engage with the communities most affected by these emissions due to their proximity to the facilities. EPA will hold a webinar on August 10, to provide current information on risks and plans to reduce exposure followed by meetings in affected communities. EPA also announced a proposed air pollution regulation addressing EtO emissions from commercial sterilizers will be issued later this year.

What is ethylene oxide and why is it a problem?

  • According to the EPA, ethylene oxide or EtO (CAS RN 75-21-8) is a colorless gas used to sterilize 50% of medical devices and dental equipment that cannot be sterilized using steam or radiation. It is also used to sterilize some food products and spices, and as a pesticide. [ For more on how EtO is used in medical applications, read AgencyIQ Life Science’s analysis here or POLITICO Pro’s analysis here. ]

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