91.7 Ann Arbor/Detroit 104.1 Grand Rapids 91.3 Port Huron 89.7 Lansing 91.1 Flint
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Nessel, 10 other state AGs, urge EPA to set stricter emissions standard for carcinogen

surgical scissors on tray
Wikimedia Commons

Michigan and ten other states are urging the U.S. EPA to set stricter limits on emissions of a known carcinogen called ethylene oxide, or EtO.  The chemical is used to sterilize medical equipment.  
In a letter to the EPA, state attorneys general say the agency is six years behind schedule in setting stricter limits on EtO.  The chemical is linked to a higher risk of breast cancer, among other health issues.  

We are concerned that the standards for EtO, a flammable and highly reactive gas, fail to adequately protect workers and communities from this toxic chemical for which acute exposure risks include respiratory irritation and lung injury, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, shortness of breath, and cyanosis, and chronic exposure risks include cancer, reproductive effects, mutagenic changes, and neurotoxicity. We urge EPA to propose revised standards that adequately protect public health and the environment from the well-documented risks posed by EtO emissions. We also call on the EPA to work with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to support research into effective alternatives to EtO sterilization and end the over-reliance on the practice.

In Michigan, Viant, a medical equipment company, recently voluntarily agreed to stop using EtO. That was after tests showed EtO concentrations above existing federal emissions standards. 

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Radio. She began her career at Michigan Radio as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
Related Content