WASHINGTON – U.S. Reps. Jody Hice and Brad Schneider announced the formation of a bipartisan congressional task force focused on addressing the threat of ethylene oxide emissions and urging the Environmental Protection Agency to act.
Ethylene oxide is an industrial chemical used to sterilize medical equipment and manufacture products such as anti-freeze. In 2016, the EPA listed EtO as a known carcinogen, however, the agency has yet to release a rule regulating the use of the chemical by medical sterilizers, nor has the agency engaged with communities affected by EtO emissions.
This inaction has created public concern in communities surrounding facilities that use EtO, including sites in Waukegan and Gurnee in the Illinois 10th Congressional District (Schneider) and one site in Georgia’s 10th Congressional District (Hice).
“The well-being of our constituents must always be our first priority – and it is a responsibility that extends across party lines and political ideologies,” Hice said. “Our congressional districts face the threat of ethylene oxide emissions, and acting as individuals, many of us have already called upon the EPA to carry out its duty to properly regulate this toxic chemical. By joining together in this bipartisan congressional task force on ethylene oxide, we multiply the strength of our voices to better serve our constituents and ensure their safety. I look forward to working with my colleague Brad Schneider, and I applaud all of our colleagues who have joined the task force.”
“My constituents are rightly concerned about emissions of ethylene oxide, and that is why we need the U.S. EPA to release science-based rules and educate the public on the threat of EtO so that local families can have confidence in the air they breathe,” Schneider said. “With my colleagues in the Illinois congressional delegation, I have urged the US EPA to do its job, but this is a problem with scope beyond just our state. I am thrilled to form this bipartisan congressional task force with my colleague, Jody Hice, to coordinate the federal response of communities across the country to this threat and concentrate pressure on the US EPA to act. Public health is not a partisan issue, and we will be working to expand our task force with more affected communities.”
A majority of task force members are co-sponsors of House Resolution 1152 — introduced by Schneider — which would require EPA to issues new, strict EtO emissions standards for medical sterilization and chemical facilities and require the EPA to notify the public no more than 30 days after it learns that the new standards have been violated.
Members of the ethylene oxide task force represent half a dozen communities from three states affected by EtO and include: Hank Johnson, Barry Loudermilk, David Scott, Dan Lipinski, Sean Casten, Reps. Bill Foster, Lauren Underwood and Susan Wild.