UCS, along with our national and local partners, is advocating for the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to strengthen science-based protections for ethylene oxide (or EtO).
Ethylene oxide is a cancer-causing gas used in industrial processes and by facilities that sterilize medical equipment and dried food products. According to an analysis by ProPublica, ethylene oxide is the biggest contributor nationwide to excess industrial cancer risk from air pollutants. And Black, Latinx, low-income, and non-English-speaking communities are disproportionately exposed to facilities emitting it.
An analysis by UCS, released in February 2023, shows that ethylene oxide emissions from commercial sterilizers are contributing to inequitable exposure, creating an ongoing and urgent environmental justice issue. Using our interactive map, you can navigate to see the locations of nearly 100 commercial sterilizer facilities across the United States and Puerto Rico and learn about the threat they pose to nearby communities.
Join Our Efforts to Fight Back
Join us to stay updated on the fight for strong, equitable ethylene oxide protections. We are pushing for the EPA to require facilities to significantly decrease, and ideally eliminate, ethylene oxide emissions.
We are actively monitoring the EPA’s rulemaking process. You can review the resources below to find out more. And we will share additional information and resources soon about how you can best voice your concerns directly to the agency.
More resources on Ethylene Oxide
- UCS blog post: "EPA Needs to Trust its own Scientists"
- UCS blog post: "EPA Must Keep Communities safe from Ethylene Oxide Cancer Risks"
- UCS blog post: "Watchdog Report Reveals a Failure to Talk to Communities with Higher Ethylene Oxide Health Risks"
- UCS blog post: "Responding to COVID-19 Doesn't-Have to Mean Sacrificing Frontline Communities"
- UCS online resource: "Official Blocked Attempts to Inform Communities about Cancer-Causing Gas"
- Factsheet on ethylene oxide