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Environmental Testing Services

Category Press Release
Publish Date 6/2/2023
Author Paul Cochrane
Title EPA Issues Three Proposals to Reduce Ethylene Oxide Exposure Risks
Introduction EMSL Analytical provides environmental and industrial hygiene testing services to identify ethylene oxide and a wide range of other chemicals to protect workers, communities and to help keep businesses in regulatory compliance.

Cinnaminson, New Jersey, June 2, 2023

In April, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced three new proposals that it claims will reduce risk in communities and for workers due to the use of a chemical known as ethylene oxide (EtO).

EtO is described by EPA as a colorless gas used to make other chemicals that are used in making a range of products, including antifreeze, textiles, plastics, detergents and adhesives. It is also used as a fumigant in various agricultural products and to sterilize equipment and plastic devices that cannot be sterilized by steam, such as medical equipment. However, the agency warns that EtO use can contribute to an increased risk of cancer for people who are regularly exposed to it over long periods of time. 

EPA’s three proposals include:

  1. Reducing EtO Emissions from Chemical Plants: EPA announced a proposal under the Clean Air Act that would update several rules that apply to plants that make synthetic organic chemicals and plants that make a variety of polymers and resins. One of those rules is “the HON,” which is shorthand for Hazardous Organic NESHAP. EPA’s proposal would reduce 6,053 tons of air toxics per year, including EtO, chloroprene, hexane, benzene, methanol, 1,3-butadiene, and vinyl acetate, among others. Once the final rule is fully implemented, it would reduce 58 tons of EtO per year.
  2. Reducing EtO Emissions from Commercial Sterilizers: EPA proposed to strengthen emission standards for the 86 commercial sterilizers that are currently operating across the country as well as for new sterilizers. These requirements, if finalized, will reduce the amount of EtO that comes out of commercial sterilizers by 80 percent and will reduce risk in nearby communities to levels below the Clean Air Act benchmark for elevated risk.
  3. Reducing Risk to Workers in the Sterilization Industry: EPA proposed a broad set of new protections under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act that will reduce risk for all workers who use EtO to sterilize things and for others who work, live or go to school near sterilization facilities. 


“The Food and Drug Administration reports that ethylene oxide is used to treat approximately 50 percent of sterile medical devices, which is about 20 billion medical devices annually, and for some devices, it is the only safe and effective sterilization method currently available,” said Joe Frasca, Senior Vice President of Marketing at EMSL Analytical, Inc. “To help safeguard workers and communities, and to help companies comply with existing and future health and safety regulations, EMSL Analytical’s network of environmental and industrial hygiene laboratories offer testing services and sampling supplies to detect exposure risks to ethylene oxide and many other industrial chemicals.”

Several years ago, EMSL sponsored an educational video about ethylene oxide and occupational exposure concerns that can still be seen at: https://youtu.be/_-B8MFnk-ZQ 

To learn more about EtO or other industrial hygiene, environmental, health and safety testing services, please visit www.EMSL.com, call (800) 220-3675 or email info@EMSL.com

About EMSL Analytical, Inc.

EMSL Analytical is one of the leading testing laboratories with locations throughout the United States and Canada. EMSL is a nationally recognized and locally focused provider specializing in fast laboratory results for mold, bacteria, Legionella, USP <797>, pathogens, asbestos, lead, soot, char & ash from fires, VOCs, odors, radon, formaldehyde, indoor air quality, microbiology, environmental, industrial hygiene, radiological, food, beverage & consumer products and material testing services for the identification of unknown substances. EMSL services both professionals and the general public. EMSL maintains an extensive list of accreditations from leading organizations as well as state and federal regulating bodies including, but not limited to A2LA, AIHA LAP, LLC. (AIHA EMLAP, AIHA IHLAP, AIHA ELLAP), NVLAP, CDC ELITE, CPSC, CA ELAP, NY ELAP, TX DOH, NJDEP and multiple other state accrediting agencies. Please visit our website at www.EMSL.com for a complete listing of accreditations. In addition, EMSL carries a wide range of Sampling Equipment and Investigative Products for environmental professionals.

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