Ethylene Oxide: What You Can Do

Published Jan 27, 2023 Updated Aug 1, 2023

A graphic with the text "Communities and workers are at risk from exposure to ethylene oxide" overlaid over a photo of children on a merry go round in front of an industrial building.

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.

What you can do

More resources on Ethylene Oxide

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