Energy & Environment

Communities near 23 sterilization plants have increased cancer risk: EPA

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The offices of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C.

Communities near 23 sterilization facilities across the U.S. have increased risks of cancer due to the facilities’ emissions of a toxic chemical, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said this week. 

The EPA said on Wednesday that emissions from the facilities are creating a risk of at least one additional cancer case per 10,000 people exposed. 

The facilities on the EPA’s list are located in 13 different states and Puerto Rico. Some are in mid-sized cities like Richmond, Va., and Memphis, Tenn.

The facilities use a chemical called ethylene oxide, which causes cancer, according to the EPA. Exposure to the substance has been linked to white blood cell cancers including types of lymphoma and leukemia as well as increased breast cancer risks in women. 

The substance is used as a sterilizing agent and commonly used on medical equipment in particular. The EPA says that for some devices, the chemical is the only safe and effective sterilizing method available, but that the federal government is working to reduce its emissions and find alternatives.

In a statement, EPA Administrator Michael Regan said that the agency was “taking action to ensure communities are informed and engaged in our efforts to address ethylene oxide.””

The full list of communities where these facilities are located is: Lakewood, Colo.; Groveland, Fla.; Taunton, Mass.; Hanover, Md.; Jessup, Md.; Salisbury, Md.; Jackson, Mo.; Columbus, Neb.; Franklin , N.J.; Linden, N.J.; Ardmore, Okla.; Erie, Pa.; Zelienople, Pa.; New Tazewell, Tenn.; Memphis, Tenn.; Athens, Texas; Laredo, Texas; Sandy, Utah; Richmond, Va.; Añasco, Puerto Rico; Fajardo, Puerto Rico; Salinas, Puerto Rico and Villalba, Puerto Rico. 

Tags chemicals Environmental Protection Agency Environmental Protection Agency EPA EPA Ethylene Oxide Florida Maryland Massachusetts Michael Regan Missouri Nebraska New Jersey Oklahoma Pennsylvania Puerto Rico Tennessee toxic chemicals Utah Virginia

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