DEQ Statement – EPA EtO Announcement

Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced plans to address the risks posed by air emissions of ethylene oxide (EtO) from commercial sterilizers, and also identified specific facilities where lifetime cancer risk levels are elevated for people who live nearby. The medical sterilization facility BD Medical in Sandy (9450 State St.) was identified as one of those facilities.

While inhalation of EtO at these levels over many years may increase lifetime cancer risk, EPA has determined, through computer modeling, that BD Medical is not emitting EtO into the air at levels that pose short-term health risks.

DEQ is working closely with EPA, Sandy City, the Salt Lake County Health Department (SLCoHD), the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), as well as BD Medical to address concerns of long-term risk related to the facility.

Although they are in compliance with all current air pollution regulations, BD Medical has shared plans to voluntarily make upgrades that will significantly reduce EtO emissions when they are in place. We are committed to ensuring that these changes adequately address risk to the community.

In addition to the EPA risk assessment released today, the Division of Air Quality (DAQ) in partnership with the University of Utah has been measuring, over the past eight months, ambient EtO near medical sterilization facilities in Salt Lake County. A final report including a health risk assessment will be released by Sept. 2023, but intermittent results will continue to be shared as they become available. SLCoHD has also requested that DHHS conduct a public health assessment and statistical cancer review of the area of concern.

We look forward to continuing to partner with EPA as they review Clean Air Act regulations to further reduce EtO emissions from industrial facilities, and with BD Medical to ensure that they can continue to provide a critical service to medical facilities in a way that is safe for our communities.

Members of the public are encouraged to participate in an EPA webinar on Aug. 10, 2022 to learn more about the issue from a national level, and join us for a community meeting on August 17, 2022, 6:30 pm, with representatives from DEQ, Sandy City, DHHS and SLCoHD. You can find more information on the EPA Ethylene Oxide website and our Frequently Asked Questions.