Ethylene Oxide in Maryland

Published Feb 7, 2023

A map showing the locations of ethylene oxide-emitting facilities in Baltimore, Maryland.

Maryland has four commercial sterilizers. More than 343,000 Marylanders live within five miles of at least one of these facilities (nearly 6 percent of the state population) (US Census Bureau 2020). The two sterilizers in metropolitan Baltimore, in Hanover and Jessup, are roughly three miles apart. Elite Spice owns both, using EtO to sterilize spices and dehydrate vegetables. The EPA has identified both facilities as contributing to elevated cancer risks (see Hanover and Jessup), with each contributing to a maximum excess cancer risk level of 100 additional cases per 1 million people (EPA 2022f; EPA 2022g). According to the EPA’s ECHO database, the facilities reported a combined 143 pounds of EtO releases and transfers in 2021 (see ECHO webpages for Hanover and Jessup). More than a quarter-million people and nearly 200 schools and childcare centers are within five miles of these facilities. Both are in communities where the proportion of people of color is roughly 10 percent greater than in the counties overall.