For Immediate Release
Date: August 19, 2019
Contact: Michael Power, (404) 242-5016
Georgia Chemistry Council Statement on Ethylene Oxide Meetings in Covington and Smyrna
Today, the Georgia Chemistry Council issued a statement related to ethylene oxide safety:
“In advance of the community meetings in Covington and Smyrna regarding the safety of ethylene oxide (EO), the Georgia Chemistry Council is appreciative of the counties’ and participants’ efforts to educate local residents and communities. Our top priority has always been to ensure the health and safety of our citizens and environment as we address any issue that may arise related to safe chemical use.
“We are cognizant of the concerns expressed by local residents and elected officials, and are working with the Environmental Protection Agency, the Georgia Environmental Protection Department and local officials to determine the accurate amount of EO levels in our communities and develop an appropriate solution. While new testing is well underway, the preliminary results still suffer from many of the same issues that have plagued previous testing.
“Because EO is found naturally in ambient air and exists in rural areas, miles and miles from any facilities with EO emissions, concentrations show up in nearly every test. While EPA scientists are confident that EO has been detected, they are not confident in the exact reading according to Janet McCabe, who was formerly the EPA’s acting assistant administrator for its Office of Air and Radiation. She recently was quoted as saying, ‘it’s very difficult to measure such tiny amount of chemicals in the air accurately.’
“EO is emitted when plants decay, by vehicle exhaust, cooking oils, cigarette smoke and other sources. Without being able to pinpoint the exact sources through testing, determining a quantifiable value attributable to facility emissions has proven to be a challenge.
“EO is an important chemical building block used to produce many products we use every day, such as household cleaners, safety glass, adhesives, textiles, and detergents. It is also used to sterilize medical equipment and supplies by facilities in the region, including hospitals.
While we believe the EPA’s published IRIS risk assessment of EO is flawed, we are committed to continuing our work with scientific researchers, regulators and elected officials to ensure the best available science is used to protect Georgia families.”