Ethylene Oxide & Commercial Sterilizing Lawsuits

A scientist mixing chemicals in a beaker

Ethylene Oxide (EtO) is a colorless and flammable gas. It is typically odorless at levels found in air outside of facilities or in communities. EtO is a chemical that is used for two main purposes:

  1. Make other chemicals and products like antifreeze and plastic bottles.
  2. Sterilize items that can’t be sterilized by steam, such as some types of medical equipment.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, EtO is currently used to treat approximately 50% of sterile medical devices, about 20 billion medical devices annually.

EPA scientists and analysts recently completed a risk assessment for communities near the approximately 100 commercial sterilizers currently operating in the United States. This assessment will inform the Agency’s proposed rulemaking process and is helping us to better understand where risk is and how to reduce it. This assessment is based on the most up-to-date information available from commercial sterilizers. 

How is Ethylene Oxide Used in Industrial Plant Manufacturing?

Ethylene oxide is created during the process of making ethylene glycol, which most consumers know as antifreeze. It’s also part of the process for making several other products, including:

  • Polyester fibers for both fabrics and carpets
  • PVC pipe
  • Polyurethane foam
  • Medicines
  • Glues and adhesives
  • Detergents

Also, ethylene oxide is used to sterilize certain products that can’t be sterilized with steam, such as a medical device, culinary spices, and makeup. It is even used to fumigate buildings.

Ethylene Oxide Linked to Causing Cancer

EtO is also known to cause cancer. When people breathe in EtO over the course of many years it can increase their risk of cancers of the blood and, in women, breast cancer.

The cancers and medical conditions identified include:

  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Myeloma
  • Lymphocytic leukemia
  • Breast cancer in women
  • Brain cancer
  • Stomach cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Connective tissue cancers
  • Uterine cancer

File an Ethylene Oxide (EtO) Lawsuit with Douglas & London

If you or someone you know were contaminated with Ethylene Oxide and are now diagnosed with cancer, please feel free to speak with the toxic exposure lawyers at Douglas & London. You may be entitled to compensation and you don’t pay unless we win. To apply for a free consultation, fill out the form on the side of the screen, chat with us or give us a call at (212) 566-7500.