Ethylene Oxide in Minnesota

Published Feb 7, 2023

A map of ethylene oxide-emitting facilities in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota.

All six of Minnesota's commercial sterilizers are in metropolitan Minneapolis-St. Paul. Nearly 842,000 Minnesotans (nearly 15 percent of the state population) live within five miles at least one of these facilities (US Census Bureau 2020).

Five commercial sterilizers with overlapping five-mile buffer zones are in and around Minneapolis. These are Interventional Cardiology/Boston Scientific in Maple Grove, Medtronic Physiological Research Lab and Steris in Coon Rapids, Medtronic in Fridley, and Cardiac Pacemakers/Boston Scientific in Arden Hills. The Steris and Medtronic facilities are in communities with higher proportions of people of color compared with the county averages.

Just over 10 miles from the Arden Hills facility is a sixth commercial sterilizer—3M—in Maplewood, outside St. Paul. This facility has been in noncompliance with the Clean Air Act three of the last 12 quarters; it has faced two informal and two formal enforcement actions in the last five years, paying nearly $13,000 in penalties. Within five miles of the 3M sterilizer, the proportion of people of color, people with low income, and people with limited English proficiency are all higher than the county average (and the highest proportion compared with all sterilizers in Minnesota). More than 250,000 people and 200 schools and childcare centers are within five miles of this facility.