Texas has eight commercial sterilizers and one facility with MON-related EtO emissions. More than 1.1 million Texans (roughly 4 percent of the state population) live within five miles of at least one of these facilities (US Census Bureau 2020).
Two sterilizers—Sterigenics and Cosmed of Texas—are less than a mile apart in Grand Prairie, between Dallas and Fort Worth. More than 240,000 people and roughly 100 schools and childcare centers are within five miles of at least one of these facilities. Nearly three-quarters of the population within five miles of these facilities are people of color—more than 10 percent greater than the county average. There is also a greater concentration of people with low income and people with limited English language proficiency compared with the county overall. The estimated air toxics cancer risk in the census tract with both facilities is 100 additional cases per 1 million people; EtO emissions contribute to roughly 79 percent of the overall cancer risk in this tract (AirToxScreen 2022).
Five commercial sterilizers are in communities along the US Mexico border (in Laredo, Texas; El Paso, Texas; and San Diego, California), affecting predominantly Latino and Spanish-speaking populations. In Laredo, nearly 95 percent of the more than 83,000 people who live within five miles of the Midwest Sterilization facility identify as people of color. The estimated air toxics cancer risk in the census tract where this facility is located is 100 additional cases per 1 million people; EtO emissions contribute to roughly three-quarters of the overall cancer risk in this tract (AirToxScreen 2022).
For years, community members and advocates in the Clean Air Laredo Coalition have called for monitoring and emissions controls at the Midwest Sterilization facility (Clean Air Laredo Coalition, n.d.; Collier and Miller 2021). After extensive community advocacy, the city of Laredo has decided to pay for installing air monitors near the facility (Collier and Miller 2022).
The health hazards to border communities is cause for concern. The estimated excess cancer risk from air toxics in these three communities ranges from 80 to 400 cases per 1 million (average of 154 additional cancer cases per million); EtO emissions contribute to nearly three-quarters of the total cancer risk on average (AirToxScreen 2022).
El Paso has another sterilizer hotspot, with Steris Isomedix and Dynatec Scientific Laboratories less than two miles apart. More than 90 percent of people living within five miles of these facilities identify as people of color. Another Sterigenics commercial sterilizer is just across the Texas border in Santa Teresa, New Mexico.