Ethylene Oxide in California

Published Feb 7, 2023

A map of the locations of ethylene oxide-emitting facilities in Los Angeles, California.

California has 15 commercial sterilizers, including nine in metropolitan Los Angeles. More than 4.8 million Californians (roughly 12 percent of the state population) live within five miles of at least one of these facilities (US Census Bureau 2020). Los Angeles and Temecula are hotspots, with two facilities each. The Temecula facilities are less than two miles from each other.

The sterilizers in the Los Angeles hotspot—Sterigenics and Partner Medical Products—are in the most densely populated area among all facilities included in the UCS analysis. Within five miles of these two facilities, the proportion of people of color is 93 to 96 percent (the county average is 74 percent); the proportion of people with low income is also greater than the county average. The proportion of people with limited English language proficiency in the community surrounding the Sterigenics facility is 22 percent, nearly twice the county average.

In the Bay area hotspot in San Jose, Auris Health and the NASA-Ames Research Center are within 10 miles of each other. More than half a million people live within five miles of the Auris Health facility; nearly 80 percent of them are people of color (nearly 10 percent greater than the county average). The proportions of people with low income and people with limited English language proficiency are also greater than the county average. This is especially striking given the area's median household income is greater than $120,000 (US Census Bureau 2020). While the UCS analysis found no stark sociodemographic disparities in the communities surrounding the NASA-Ames Research Center, the facility has been in noncompliance with the Clean Air Act four of the last 12 quarters and has faced two informal and one formal enforcement action with penalties over the last five years.