Lung Association Applauds Measures to Reduce Ethylene Oxide

EPA’s final rule to reduce carcinogenic leaks from many facilities is important step

Today, in response to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) announcement that it has finalized a rule to reduce ethylene oxide emissions from commercial sterilizing facilities, Harold Wimmer, President and CEO of the American Lung Association, issued the following statement:

“Today’s rule is an important step forward to protect human health from cancer caused by emissions of ethylene oxide. We’re glad to see that the rule EPA finalized will meaningfully limit ethylene oxide leaks from commercial sterilization facilities.

“The science on health risks from ethylene oxide shows both short-term and long-term exposure are dangerous for health. Of particular importance for this rule, people who live near many commercial sterilization facilities are much more likely to develop cancer over their lifetimes. No one should have to live with elevated cancer risk because of air pollution in their community.

“We’re glad to see that EPA’s final action today will require these facilities to take reasonable measures to prevent this gas from leaking out of the facilities where it’s used to sterilize items such as medical equipment. 

“The patients with lung disease that our organization serves also need access to safe and clean medical supplies. We appreciate the work EPA put into ensuring that this final rule both cleans up harmful emissions and ensures continued access to sterilized medical equipment. 

“This final rule is what we hope will be the first of many milestones on a journey to better regulating ethylene oxide. We appreciated EPA’s work to collect emissions data and inform the public who live near facilities that put their health at risk, and we appreciate this final rule today. Now EPA must move forward with additional safeguards, including measures to protect workers from ethylene oxide and final chemical plant rules that will further reduce these emissions. Other federal agencies must take steps to collaborate to find more alternative sterilizers.” 

For more information, contact:

Jill Dale
[email protected]

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