By Joanna Chlystek

August 2019 brought the one-year anniversary of the discovery that our community had been exposed to decades of a Group 1 carcinogen and the formation of “Stop Sterigenics.”  The Facebook group recently topped 8,000 members and our resolve to protect our community from toxic ethylene oxide emissions is stronger than ever.  

On Friday, September 13, members from the Stop Sterigenics team stood by staff from the Illinois Environmental Council, legislators, and members of the Stop ETO community in Lake County to announce new legislation: HB3888.  This bill is sponsored by Rep. Rita Mayfield, Rep. Joyce Mason, Rep. Sam Yingling, Rep. Anne Stava-Murray, and supported by Sen. John Curran and Sen. Melinda Bush. It is a comprehensive bill that will do the following:

● Phase out EtO emissions or both Ethylene Oxide and Propylene Oxide by 2021 for sterilization facilities, and 2022 for urban hospitals, 2025 for rural hospitals.

● Prevent emissions from hospitals or sterilizers near population centers and schools, and includes a regional cap on emissions.

● Requires air monitoring for all emissions sources.

● Requires reporting by the Illinois EPA on where EtO is used, how much is used, and the estimated impact.

● Requires reporting of EtO emissions by all manufacturers.

● Explicitly prohibits the uncontrolled venting or dumping of ethylene oxide.

● Enhances public information for community members, including plans of the phase-out for each site.

We are hoping for bill HB3888 to enter committee by the end of this month. We will need your support soon and we will be asking you for your help by contacting your State Representative & State Senator and asking them to support it. 

Leader Durkin also entered HB3885, which is a bill that allows home-rule communities with sterilizers to prohibit ethylene oxide sterilization in its boundaries.  This bill does not currently cover propylene oxide or prevent a sterilizer from moving into an unincorporated area, or near a school. There is a chance that Leader Durkin will improve this bill or components of it will be included in HB3888.  

If you are interested in joining the fight against toxic air, please visit to join the mailing list, make a donation, and/or complete a volunteer form.