Ethylene Oxide

  • Bush thanks local groups for Intergovernmental Ethylene Oxide Testing

    bush 013020GRAYSLAKE —State Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) applauded local government agencies for creating a testing plan to address the continuing issue of ethylene oxide air pollution in Lake County.

    “No one should have to worry about the air they breathe being safe from harmful chemicals,” Bush said. “Thanks to efforts from the Lake County Health Department, area residents will soon know the truth about their air quality.”

    Due to concerns surrounding ethylene oxide emissions from Medline Industries in Waukegan and Vantage Specialty Chemicals in Gurnee, the Lake County Health Department, Village of Gurnee and City of Waukegan created a multi-phase ethylene oxide testing plan. The plan — which collected air samples to be analyzed by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry — was finalized last week.

    The agency will produce a health risk assessment report, and the Illinois Department of Public Health will perform a cancer incidence study. The findings of both reports will allow Bush and others to understand how the chemical is impacting residents’ health and roll out a more comprehensive plan on how to tackle the health risks.

    Bush has been a steadfast supporter of combatting the ethylene oxide health crisis. Last year, she successfully passed a law that established the strictest limits in the nation on ethylene oxide emissions. She also spearheaded a law that requires Vantage Specialty Chemicals, a Lake County manufacturer that uses ethylene oxide in its products, to put in place several environmental safeguards in order to continue operating.

    “While the measures we passed last year were major steps forward to ensure the air we breathe is safe, we needed to do more,” Bush said. “The data from these reports will give us the information we need to best protect our community from the harmful effects of ethylene oxide.”

  • Link lauds temporary closure of Medline facility

    Senator LinkWAUKEGAN – State Senator Terry Link (D-Indian Creek) applauded Medline Industries’ decision to temporarily close its Waukegan sterilization plant while working to decrease ethylene oxide emissions.

    “It’s clear just how dangerous exposure to ethylene oxide can be,” Link said. “I’m glad to see that Medline is taking the health consequences of people who live near the plant seriously.”

    The company announced Tuesday that it will temporarily halt sterilization operations at the Waukegan facility to install nearly $10 million worth of upgrades to comply with new state laws regulating ethylene oxide.

    Last year, Link co-sponsored a law that set emission limits for non-sterilizations facilities that emit ethylene oxide and requires them to obtain permits from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. He also sponsored a law to prevent renewal of permits for facilities that violate state or federal standards for ethylene oxide emissions.

    Both measures took effect in June.

    “We need tight regulations on ethylene oxide to ensure that the public health is protected in communities that neighbor these plants,” Link said. “The laws we passed last spring are a good step forward, but we still have a lot of work to do on this issue.”

    Last year, a study by the University of Illinois at Chicago found higher levels of ethylene oxide in the blood of people who live near plants that emit the chemical. Further studies by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the World Health Organization and the National Toxicology Program have all demonstrated a link between ethylene oxide and cancer.

  • Senator Morrison commends Medline Industries

    morrison 012120SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield) commends Medline Industries for taking steps to decrease ethylene oxide emissions from its Waukegan plant.

    “Ethylene oxide causes cancer,” Morrison said. “We took action last year to ensure the emission of this harmful substance is no longer the cause of numerous deaths across the north suburbs.”

    Medline Industries temporarily closed its Waukegan-based medical device sterilization operation to install nearly $10 million in upgrades to make the plant compliant with state laws regulating ethylene oxide, the company announced Tuesday.

    Two measures co-sponsored by Sen. Morrison, both which passed in 2019, prohibit the renewal of any permits for facilities that violate federal or state standards for ethylene oxide emissions. The other puts emission limits on non-sterilization facilities that emit ethylene oxide and requires them to obtain a permit from the IEPA. That permit must include a site-specific cap on the business’ ethylene oxide emissions.

    Medline said Tuesday that it has been working “around the clock” to finish the upgrade to install the emissions abatement equipment, but must close down for a few weeks to complete the final stages of testing. Late last year, Vantage Specialty Chemicals Facility in Gurnee also completed improvements necessary to bring the plant up to the state’s guidelines.

    “Facilities that use the cancer-causing chemicals should be held to the highest standards,” Morrison said. “They cannot put money over people. Medline has done the right thing by temporarily shutting down its plant in order to better protect the people of Illinois.”

    The improvements from both companies come a year after a study from the University of Illinois at Chicago found higher levels of ethylene oxide in the blood of people who live near the plants. Ethylene oxide was placed on a national list of carcinogens in 1985. In 2006, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released an assessment linking ethylene oxide to breast and blood cancer. The EPA, World Health Organization and the National Toxicology Program all declared the gas cancer-causing.

  • Bush & Curran unveil legislative package offering greater protections from ethylene oxide

    Sen. Melinda BushState Senators Melinda Bush and John Curran, joined by Willowbrook residents, unveiled a package of legislation on Tuesday that seeks to address the public health crisis caused by Sterigenics and their release of ethylene oxide into surrounding communities. The announcement comes after the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (ILEPA) issued a seal order against Sterigenics last week, which forced them to cease operations.

    While praising the ILEPA’s decision as an important first step, it was reiterated that lawmakers now need to ensure the proper policies and protections are in place to safeguard Willowbrook and all Illinois communities from the impact of this public health hazard.

  • Bush demands answers on deadly ethylene oxide emissions in Lake County

    bush 111418SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) is demanding answers about the deadly impact of ethylene oxide emissions from two Lake County plants. Victims and experts spoke about potential effects of ethylene oxide being emitted from Chicago-area plants during the Senate Environment and Conservation committee hearing today.

    “Public safety has to be the top priority,” Bush said. “Today’s hearing made it clear that business interests are being prioritized over the health and safety of Illinoisans. And that’s not acceptable.”