(PresidentialInsider.com)- More facilities will soon be forced to report how much ethylene oxide they release into the atmosphere, according to a new requirement announced by the Environmental Protection Agency.
On Monday, the EPA said it would require these facilities to report on the amount of EtO they release into the atmosphere, after they previously weren’t required to report it. EtO is considered a carcinogenic gas.
In total, there are 29 facilities the EPA said it believes would “likely to exceed” current emissions reporting thresholds, which sit at 10,000 pounds of EtO per year. As a result, the agency said this new reporting requirement would help local communities deal with the gas, which is used mainly to sterilize facilities and equipment and to produce other chemicals.
In a statement, Michael Freedhoff, who serves as the assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, said:
“For too long, many communities in this country, particularly those with environmental justice concerns, have been at risk of exposure to EtO without even knowing it. This will help inform EPA’s future actions and empower communities to act at the local level.”
The EPA has said that evidence has shown that exposure to EtO increases the risk of people developing breast cancer and certain types of white blood cell cancers.
EtO has been in the news a lot lately. Back in April, a watchdog group found that an official with the Trump administration delayed releasing any information on the chemical to the public.
The incident in question happened in Willowbrook, Illinois.
In addition to the delay in information release, the report released by the inspector general for the EPA found various senior political officials in the Trump administration also sought to restrict certain officials at the regional level from conducting activities that would monitor levels of EtO.
That, in part, led the EPA to announce back in October that it would evaluate whether 31 different facilities should face federal reporting requirements of EtO. This week, the agency said two of the facilities were removed from consideration.
At the time, Freedhoff said in a statement:
“EPA is committed to taking action to protect people from exposure to EtO, especially children, workers and residents in underserved and overburdened communities. Requiring companies that use the largest amounts of EtO in this industry sector to report on this chemical will help inform EPA’s future actions and ensure that communities have access to the best information available so they can take necessary action.”
One of the facilities said the gas is released just in low quantities, and the other said it doesn’t conduct any sterilization work on the site anymore.
In addition to the 29 facilities now required to report on levels of EtO released, 16 of them will be required to report on the release of ethylene glycol. That chemical has been found to have an impact on people’s kidneys, heart and nervous system if they were to ingest it.
The EPA said that chemical can “co-occur” along with EtO.