Medline in Waukegan announced this week that ethylene oxide (EtO) readings taken between October 26 and November 2 by the Lake County Health Department show that the areas near the plant averaged “only .18 parts per billion, lower than any other EPA-tested area, which in Illinois includes Chicago and Northbrook.”
Medline uses EtO to sterilize medical equipment.
“Medline is encouraged by this initial data, especially since we are still in the process of finalizing the installation of additional redundant emission technologies that will abate 99.9% of all the EtO used at our facility when complete," company spokesperson Jesse Greenberg said. "We will continue to be vigilant, because our top priority remains the safety of our employees and the communities we operate in.”
Tests also show a spike in EtO near Vantage Specialty Chemicals in Gurnee, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Vantage uses EtO in the manufacturing of household and industrial products.
Reports by the Tribune and other media outlets have linked EtO to certain cancers, but independent scientists have discounted the reports, noting that the concentrations of the gas are far too low to be considered dangerous.
In mid-November, the Democratically controlled Senate blocked House-approved EtO legislation, HB 3888, that would have all but forced Medline and Vantage to stop using EtO all together. Medline is owned by the Mills family, long-time donors to Democratic candidates.
In late September, another business that uses EtO to sterilize medical equipment, Sterigenics, announced that it was closing its Willowbrook plant for good. The business faced increasing community pressure, tougher regulations, and lawsuits over its EtO emissions.