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Ethylene Oxide

What is Ethylene oxide?

In several communities throughout Illinois, the chemical ethylene oxide is used in sterilization facilities. For some time, it has been suspected that the same properties that make ethylene oxide an effective sterilizing agent may also make it a carcinogen. Recent research and reporting by the US EPA has confirmed this suspicion, indicating both that ethylene oxide is a powerful carcinogen linked to the development of breast cancer and other cancer varieties, and that cancer rates may be far higher in one of the Illinois communities, Willowbrook, because of exposure to this dangerous chemical.

Recent reporting by the Chicago Tribune has found that Waukegan's western boundaries, as well as Gurnee, Park City, North Chicago, Warren Township and Naval Station Great Lakes, are also at risk from ethylene oxide emissions from facilities in the area.

To protect public health the Illinois EPA (“IEPA”) needs to issue new regulations of this chemical that are consistent with today's scientific understanding of the chemical's dangers, and the General Assembly needs to grant the IEPA new authority to rapidly address this public health crisis through the regulatory process.

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