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Congressman Brad Schneider

Representing the 10th District of Illinois

Schneider Statement on Illinois Department of Public Health Ethylene Oxide Cancer Incidence Study

March 29, 2019
Press Release

Following an alarming new report by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) showing higher incidences of certain cancers near the Sterigenics facility in Willowbrook that uses Ethylene Oxide (EtO), Congressman Brad Schneider (IL-10) released the below statement:

“This disturbing report is yet more evidence that we urgently need ambient air monitoring in the Lake County communities near two facilities that use ethylene oxide. The foot-dragging from the EPA is inexplicable and unacceptable. I have raised this point with Administrator Wheeler multiple times, including in-person as recently as yesterday, and I will continue to do so until ambient air monitoring is undertaken. I commend the initiative of Lake County to conduct its own air testing, but this comes as a direct result of the EPA’s failure to lead. We need this testing so that we can take all appropriate action to protect the health of our communities.”

Background:

Schneider joined Sens. Durbin and Duckworth and Reps. Foster, Lipinski, and Casten in a letter today calling on the EPA to use its authority to prevent use of ethylene oxide at Sterigenics and immediately begin ambient air monitoring at the Medline and Vantage facilities in Lake County. - LINK

In February 2019, Reps. Schneider and Underwood and Sens. Durbin and Duckworth urged the EPA to begin ambient air monitoring at the Lake County facilities. – LINK

Schneider and Durbin also led the introduction of a bill that would revise EtO emissions standards for commercial sterilization and manufacturing facilities, and require the EPA to notify the public no more than 30 days after it learns that the new standards have been violated. - LINK

Members of the Illinois congressional delegation have repeatedly written letters to the EPA, EPA Office of the Inspector General (OIG), and Sterigenics asking for answers about high levels of EtO emissions, plans for air monitoring, and whether the EPA intentionally withheld critical health information from the public about carcinogenic air pollution from the facilities in DuPage County and Lake County.

The members also introduced legislation that would hold the EPA accountable for its poor oversight of EtO emissions. Duckworth and Foster led the introduction of the Expanding Transparency of Information and Safeguarding Toxics (EtO is Toxic) Act of 2019, which would close existing loopholes that both benefit the chemical industry and allow the EPA to do nothing if a risk assessment they conduct finds that a chemical is more harmful than previously thought. In addition, the bill increases transparency, data, and public health requirements for chemicals that may present a public health risk.