The letter “Reader disapproves ethylene oxide guest editorial” could leave readers misinformed because it leaves out important facts about the oversight role of Georgia EPD and does not include key air monitoring in our community.
The letter asserts that residents’ information is limited to what is self-reported by the industry and calls for independent monitoring. The truth is that the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) oversees equipment testing at our site and regularly monitors ambient air in our community.
The EPD independently collects air samples throughout metro Atlanta to assess the average background concentrations of EtO. Samples are taken weekly in Covington. In addition, BD has hired a highly respected, national environmental consulting firm to take samples several times per week at key locations near our plant. These results are regularly published on the Georgia EPD website and our own.
As of the EPD’s most recent update, the data show that average concentrations of EtO in Covington’s ambient air are generally lower than the concentrations found in the rural General Coffee State Park and those observed at EPD’s background monitoring station in South DeKalb.
Further, average EtO concentrations in Covington continue to be within range for what the U.S. EPA found to be typical in its comprehensive nationwide study – including urban and rural areas that are not near sterilization facilities.
Residents and town officials in Covington felt it was important to have air monitoring data to inform decisions and assess risk. Now that 18 months of data are available, we can learn a lot from this real-world data.
For more than 20 years, BD has operated with stringent emission control technology at its plants, even before they were required by the EPA. Since August 2019, BD has invested nearly $40 million in upgrades at our sites, making Covington and Madison locations among the nation’s most effectively controlled EtO sterilization facilities. The company has always met its EPA-mandated control requirements and will continue to take prompt action to ensure that its operations are safe and compliant.
All my colleagues and I work in Covington. Many of those who work in our facilities live in Covington or the surrounding area. We are committed to the safety of patients, our employees, and our community. We will continue to operate safely and transparently, and keep you updated on our work.
For more information about BD and EtO and the most up-to-date air monitoring results, please visit https://etosafety.bd.com.
Boone Brothers, CSP, CHMM
Senior Manager, Environmental Health & Safety at BD