Stop Sterigenics From Releasing Carcinogen Into Our Air

Stop Sterigenics From Releasing Carcinogen Into Our Air

By Steve Leopoldo

Sterigenics is a sterilization company that has operated 24 hours a day out of two rented warehouses in Willowbrook since the 1980s.  One plant is directly behind the Target store on Rte 83 and the other is across the street from the police station.  In these buildings they sterilize pallets using Ethylene Oxide (EtO).  While they claim to be a medical sterilization plant, they also use this gas on foods like spices.  EtO was known as a likely carcinogen since the 80s and in 2012 was  reclassified as a known human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.  Sterigenics has been spewing this over the area for decades.  Though the technology has existed for a while, they only recently, after being contacted by the Illinois EPA, added additional containment measures to reduce the volume of this carcinogenic gas.  

In October of 2013 Sterigenics in Willowbrook spilled significant quantities of EtO and Ethylene Glycol and paid a minor fine.  Residents were not informed.    Sterigenics now claims to have reduced emissions by 90%, but this is little comfort as EtO has a long half-life and persists at ground level.  Every day of continued emissions into our community greatly increases our risk for several types of cancer, particularly among children.

Link to fact sheet

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