Saturday, March 16, 2024

U.S. environmental agency curbs cancer-causing gas being used to sterilize medical equipment

The federal EPA has placed tougher restrictions on an odorless, colorless cancer-causing gas used to sterilize medical equipment.

According to a story by Maxine Joselow in The Washington Post earlier this week, the move to limit ethylene oxide is "aimed at helping disadvantaged communities across the country reduce their exposure to a toxic pollutant."

The medical industry not surprisingly "warned that the rule could disrupt the supply of safe medical equipment at hospitals and clinics nationwide," the article says.

Joselow's piece indicates that criticism came, too, from some environmental and public health advocates who found the new limits too weak, saying they "would not adequately protect low-income and minority communities that are disproportionately affected."

Ethylene oxide has been linked to several types of cancer, particularly lymphoma and leukemia. The new rule applies to almost 90 sterilization facilities owned and operated by some 50 companies, the EPA says. "Those facilities will have to reduce ethylene oxide emissions by more than 90 percent," the article maintains.

Michael Regan
Michael Regan, the first black man to serve as EPA administrator, "has put an emphasis on curbing deadly pollution in communities of color and low-income neighborhoods," the Washington Post story contends. 

He's quoted from a statement: "We have allowed the science and listened to communities to fulfill our responsibility to safeguard public health from this pollution — including the health of children who are particularly vulnerable to carcinogens early in life."

Joselow's story also cites last year's analysis from the Union of Concerned Scientists that found "roughly 14 million people live within five miles of facilities that met ethylene oxide, and that nearly 60 percent are people of color. Nearly 31 percent are low-income."

The gas, according to the story, "is used to sterilize about half of all U.s. medical supplies, including billions of syringes, heart valves, pacemakers, and feeding and breathing tubes."

More information on environmental causes of disease can be found in Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer, a VitalityPress book that I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.

No comments:

Post a Comment