EPA to require more facilities to report releases of carcinogenic gas

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Monday that it will require more facilities to report the release of a carcinogenic gas called ethylene oxide (EtO), after previously not requiring them to do so. 

The agency said in a statement Monday that it believes the 29 facilities facing the new requirement are “likely to exceed” the emissions reporting threshold of 10,000 pounds per year of EtO. 

It argued that the move will help communities deal with the substance, which is mainly used to make other chemicals and for sterilization. 

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“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,” said Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Michal Freedhoff in a statement. 

“This will help inform EPA’s future actions and empower communities to act at the local level,” Freedhoff said. 

According to the agency, there’s evidence that ethylene oxide exposure increases risks of white blood cell cancers and breast cancer. 

EtO has recently been the subject of controversy. A watchdog found in April that a Trump administration political official delayed releasing information on the chemical. 

The EPA said in October that it planned to evaluate whether 31 facilities should have to report their emissions of EtO, but this week said that two of those facilities were removed from the list after one indicated it no longer does sterilization work there and another said it released the gas only in low quantities. 

It will also require 16 of the facilities to report releases of another chemical called ethylene glycol, which can impact the nervous system, heart and kidneys if ingested. The substance can “co-occur” with ethylene oxide, according to the EPA.