Why Ethylene Oxide is Used for Sterilization

Why Ethylene Oxide is Used for Sterilization | Pintas & Mullins Law Firm

This summer, residents of Willowbrook, Illinois learned that a company in their town has been negligently releasing high concentrations of a toxic gas for over 30 years.

The toxic gas, ethylene oxide (EtO), is classified by the EPA as a human carcinogen because of its ability to damage DNA and create a high risk for cancer. Its cancer-causing abilities have been studied and reported on since 1984, so its negative health impacts are well understood.

The consequences of releasing this gas into the air are potentially catastrophic because more than 91,000 people live within three miles of the company. Four schools and a daycare are within one mile.  

We have reason to believe that Sterigenics not only knew of the cancerous effect of EtO exposure, but also took measures to conceal it.

Why Ethylene Oxide?

EtO is one of many chemicals used for sterilization in the medical field. Sterigenics uses it to disinfect medical equipment because it effectively cleans items that are sensitive to heat and moisture methods. Its downsides are that it is flammable, explosive, and hard to control.

Where has the EPA Been All This Time?

The EPA began sampling the air in and around Sterigenics in May 2018. It found that there was more EtO in the air than is allowed, and ordered the company to install additional pollution controls to minimize human exposure. The controls were installed in July, but federal officials have not yet determined if they work.

Concerned residents want the company to shut down, but are told that it can’t be done immediately because the company is operating within the rules of its permits from the EPA.

We Are Here to Help You

If you or a loved one has lived or worked within two miles of Sterigenics any time in the past 34 years, you may have been exposed to ethylene oxide, and you have the right to file a legal claim. Even if you do not have cancer now, you have a higher risk of developing it in the future. Contact us to file your claim today. We’re available to help you 24/7.