A bipartisan coalition of advocacy groups and lawmakers unveiled a bill Friday that would phase out emissions of a cancer-causing gas in densely populated areas and near schools or day care centers by 2022.
The measure, House Bill 3888, was announced at a Chicago news conference and is the latest step in a highly publicized series of legislative and advocacy efforts to regulate or ban the use of ethylene oxide in Illinois. Ethylene oxide is a gas used in sterilization and manufacturing processes that has been linked to higher cancer rates in communities surrounding the companies that use it.
Sponsored by state Rep. Rita Mayfield, D-Waukegan, the bill proposes that by 2021, no sterilization company can use ethylene oxide within 5 miles of a region with a population density of at least 10 residents per square mile, or within the same distance from a school or day care.
Needless to say, if a facility has to be more than 5 miles from a region with a population density of at least 10 people per square mile, the location options are going to be pretty darned limited in Illinois.
* More likely, the bill is effectively a ban…
Dawn Rex lives a mile from Medline Industries and near Vantage Chemicals, two plants that utilize EtO, in Waukegan. She believes the ethylene oxide emissions from their plants are what caused her 3-year-old son Samuel to get sick with leukemia. […]
“I think these facilities need to be shut down immediately, shut down as they shut down Sterigenics,” she said. […]
State Rep. Rita Mayfield of Waukegan says she thinks legislators can get the bill passed next month in October’s veto session.
“I don’t see how any legislator or any senator can go up on the House or the Senate floor and say, ‘We’re OK with poisoning children; We’re OK with poisoning communities.’ I just don’t see that happening,” she said.
* Meanwhile, the US EPA is dragging its feet…
The EPA is no longer planning to propose toxic air pollution limits for carcinogenic ethylene oxide releases from medical sterilizer facilities this summer, as promised earlier.
Instead, the Environmental Protection Agency quietly announced Sept. 13 it would take a series of steps that will delay any action until later, including the release of an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking next month. This notice, on which the agency will take public comment, will “outline the potential approaches that EPA could take in its upcoming rule, along with the technologies available for controlling ethylene oxide emissions.”
The agency said it plans to issue the actual proposed rule “in the coming months,” according to a separate statement.
* And the FDA is taking a look at the potential for shortages…
The FDA warned last week about the potential for more medical device shortages, this time due to the temporary shutdown of a Sterigenics ethylene oxide (EO) plant outside Atlanta, Ga. […]
The Illinois EPA shut down the Willowbrook plant in February, citing excess EO emissions. Last week, a DuPage County judge approved an agreement that the state attorney general and Sterigenics reached in July that would allow Sterigenics to reopen the Willowbrook plant if it complies with a stringent new state law on EO emissions.
The Willowbrook plant sterilized 594 types of devices, including sutures, clamps, knives, stents and needles. Its closure prompted the FDA to warn of possible device shortages and sent medtech companies large and small scrambling to find other sterilization facilities. Some larger companies were able to take the task in-house or farm it out to other contract sterilization plants. Others were not so lucky.
In April, officials from Cardinal Health (NYSE:CAH), and Guerbet (EPA:GBT) advised customers that certain devices were already in short supply or may experience shortages. Teleflex Medical OEM, which had seven million devices sterilized per year at the Willowbrook plant, warned of shortages as well.
* A breakdown of the latest issues surrounding the Sterigenics plant
* Cancer Lawsuits Mount Against Illinois Companies