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Ethylene oxide phase-out bill narrowly clears House

Wednesday, Oct 30, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Notice the “Present” votes…

Democrats killed Leader Durkin’s bill in committee this week, so he and others went “Present” on this bill.

Rep. Dave McSweeney, who has often done battle with Leader Durkin, was the only Republican to vote “Yes,” so he put it over the top.

* Illinois Chamber…

“The ability to safely sterilize medical devices and materials is vital to the health and safety of our community and to employers paying for high-quality health care in Illinois,” said Illinois Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Todd Maisch. “This legislation will have significant ramifications for the health care material supply chain, and could result in shortages of sterilized devices and materials, despite the fact that Illinois passed the most stringent regulatory scheme in the nation earlier this year. Last week, the FDA sent out a statement on their concerns with medical device availability due to certain sterilization facility closures, as a result of potential actions in Illinois and Georgia to limit ethylene oxide sterilization processes. Passing this legislation without a plan for how Illinois will support our health care system’s demand for life-saving medical equipment or make up for years of wasted research and development on new technologies dependent on this form of sterilization, is recklessly endangering the health and welfare of millions of people in Illinois and around the country.”

* Medline…

While we are disappointed in today’s action, we look forward to continuing conversations with legislators in the Senate regarding Medline’s exemplary safety record and the importance of ethylene oxide sterilization to Illinois hospitals.

Medline’s top priority is the safety of our employees and the communities that we operate in. We are proud that our Waukegan facility has always operated at or below federal and state emission standards.

Further, Medline is in the process of installing a series of new controls approved by the Illinois EPA that will capture more than 99.9% of all ethylene oxide used, emitting cleaner air from our facility than the surrounding ambient air.

It’s important to also emphasize what’s at stake: Medline’s 700 team members in Waukegan produce and sterilize more than 16,000 sterile surgical packs per day used by 135 hospitals in Illinois – nearly 80% of the state’s hospitals. And as the FDA stated on October 25, banning EtO for medical device sterilization could create a shortage of life-saving sterile surgical kits to treat patients. Contrary to what anti-EtO advocates suggest, EtO is the only globally accepted, FDA-approved method to sterilize many medical products that are essential to public health.

I’ll add more when I can.

…Adding… IMA…

Because the number of ethylene oxide contract sterilization facilities in the U.S. is limited, we are very concerned that additional facility closures could severely impact the supply of sterile medical devices to health care delivery organizations that depend on those devices to take care of patients. The impact resulting from closure… will be difficult to reverse, and ultimately could result in years of spot or nationwide shortages of critical medical devices, which could compromise patient care.


  1. - Perrid - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 12:43 pm:

    Really? Durkin got upset because instead of giving local government the option to ban it, we are (possibly) going to have a statewide ban?

  2. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 12:45 pm:

    === Rep. Dave McSweeney, who has often done battle with Leader Durkin, was the only Republican to vote “Yes,” so he put it over the top.===

    This is top shelf trolling.

    Wonder if Mrs. Thome caught that Leader Durkin was “Yellow”

    That’s… interesting.

  3. - Jibba - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 12:51 pm:

    ==Durkin got upset because instead of giving local government the option to ban it===

    The product is clearly useful and may not be replaceable in the near term. It’s just that wealthy suburbs don’t like to be in close proximity to it, so they would prefer it be moved to the “country” or other places, often poor and minority areas. The right is not known for environmentalism, other than NIMBY.

  4. - Jibba - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 12:58 pm:

    ==hat will capture more than 99.9% of all ethylene oxide used===

    I’m OK with this Medline, as long as you:
    1) Prove it with continuous and ongoing monitoring,
    2) Modeling of the remaining emissions for toxicity shows appropriate results, and
    3) Take all possible measures to reduce exposure to nearby residents from that 0.1% remaining, despite any modeling that might say it is harmless.

  5. - VoteQuimby - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 1:07 pm:

    Now, its off to the Senate… Not holding my breathe… (b/c the air in Lake County is cancerous)

  6. - VoteQuimby - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 1:08 pm:

    That’s not holding my breathe on Senate action, but holding my breathe cause the air is full of EtO…

  7. - anon - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 1:09 pm:

    So, am I understanding correctly that this bill would cost 700 jobs and risk a shortage of sterile equipment used in hospitals? All related to emissions that may not occur at the remaining plant or at another plant?

  8. - Worried - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 1:12 pm:

    It looks like a huge source of ethylene oxide emissions- cars and trucks- will be exempt though as this bill is only for stationary sources. So, this bill will do very little to decrease the amount of ethylene oxide emissions in the state.

    For example, Willowbrook alone will still have 6,800 pounds of ethylene oxide emissions every year just from cars and trucks.

    My biggest worry is a medical device shortage.

  9. - Worried - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 1:19 pm:

    Also, I wonder if the EPA will need to start monitoring fast food restaurants and oil refineries as some other big ethylene oxide emissions come from frying cooking oil, especially soy bean oil, and the burning of fuel.

  10. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 1:26 pm:

    @Worried — There is no credible studies that show that ethylene oxide comes from vehicles. When pressed, the IEPA couldn’t provide a citation to this claim. If there is, please provide the source. I’m interested to see.

  11. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 1:27 pm:

    @Worried — There are no scientific, verifiable studies that show that ethylene oxide comes from vehicles. When pressed, the IEPA couldn’t provide a citation to this claim. If there is, please provide the source. I’m interested to see.

  12. - Worried - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 1:35 pm:

    Anonymous- The World Health Organization is a source that you can use to verify that the burning of fuel and exhaust from vehicles is a source of ethylene oxide.

  13. - Cheryl44 - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 2:47 pm:

    Granted I did a very quick search of WHO’s site via my phone but I am not seeing anything on ethyline oxide that’s less than 10 years old.

  14. - Touré's Latte - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 3:20 pm:

    Huh. Durkin and a couple others were crowding the mic on this one just a few weeks ago. Now they are voting present.

    “No fence unstradled.” — New ILGOP slogan.

  15. - Etown - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 5:53 pm:

    How many Medline workers have died due to exposure?

  16. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 5:55 pm:

    === How many Medline workers have died due to exposure?===

    Not enough for Leader Durkin.

    Too soon? I’ll ask Mrs. Thome.

  17. - Lives nearby - Wednesday, Oct 30, 19 @ 11:44 pm:

    @Worried. The 6800 lbs of EO from vehicles that Sterigenics quoted is for all of Dupage County not just Willowbrook. That’s about 25 million times the area of the Willowbrook plants emissions stack. The shortage is overblown. There’s over 100 Sterilizers in the US. Industry can break apart kits to reduce EO need, reduce packing to also reduce EO need, seek alternatives (some companies have) and stop using EO to sterilize spices. That will reduce the demand so the lose of a few percent of capacity will not cause a shortage. Industry will have plenty of time to switch to different devices that don’t need EO or get FDA approval for non EO use. Remember FDA doesn’t mandate EO. It mandates sterile products. The companies choose method ( about half the time they choose EO even though some reports have said its only needed 20 percent of the time); the FDA checks to see if the method passes sterilizing expectations that are set.

  18. - Also Lives Nearby - Thursday, Oct 31, 19 @ 7:09 am:

    @LivesNearby - It would take years to pass the regulatory hurdles to prove patient safety and product efficacy to switch materials for other sterilization methods. The FDA cited a previous shortage of breathing tubes and their concerns about future shortages should not be ignored.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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