How to Know if You’ve Been Exposed to Ethylene Oxide

How to Know if You’ve Been Exposed to Ethylene Oxide | Pintas & Mullins Law Firm

The most common way people are exposed to ethylene oxide (EtO) is through breathing it in. When the chemical is inhaled in small amounts, it can be easily removed through urine or feces within two to three days, and is not very harmful. Higher levels of exposure are difficult for the body to remove, and may leave victims with cancer, miscarriages, and birth defects in babies.

Environmental exposure to EtO is minimal because the gas dissolves into the atmosphere relatively quickly. The problem arises when companies that use EtO in their everyday operations release it into the air in high concentrations.

Sterigenics International in Willowbrook, Illinois is under fire for neglecting to control its EtO pollution.

What is Ethylene Oxide Used For?

EtO is used to sterilize medical equipment and other devices, like those with electronic parts, that can’t withstand high temperatures or moisture. The method is FDA-approved and commonly used.

Sterigenics International in Willowbrook, Illinois has been using the chemical to sterilize medical equipment for over three decades. The company is required to self-report the levels of EtO that it emits, and has done so since 1995. The tables below summarize these emissions.

Sterigenics operates 24 hours a day, so residents are exposed to EtO at all hours of the day.

Public Not Informed of Ethylene Oxide Risk

EtO is a colorless gas that has an indistinct sweet smell. There’s no way to know you’re being exposed to EtO at the time of exposure. Unfortunately, current and former residents of Willowbrook and the surrounding areas are finding out they were exposed to the toxic gas for many years. Had they been warned of the risks of exposure, residents would’ve been able to take their health and wellbeing into their own hands by moving away from Sterigenics.

Generally, the longer someone is exposed, the more likely the person is to develop negative side effects. A number of workers and nearby residents have reported suffering with cancers including lymphoma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, leukemia, and breast cancer (for a more detailed list of side effects, visit

EtO Lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Are Here to Serve You

If you live or work near Sterigenics in Willowbrook, Illinois, and believe you have been severely injured from the exposure to ethylene oxide, please contact the toxic exposure attorneys at Pintas & Mullins today. All consultations are free, and you pay nothing unless we win.