Congressman Brad Schneider (IL-10) released the following statement in response to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announcement this week on the 23 communities facing the highest levels of ethylene oxide (EtO) emissions:
"For decades, our communities across the country--including areas I represent--have faced high levels of ethylene oxide (EtO) emissions, exposing them to elevated cancer risks. As chair of the bipartisan Ethylene Oxide Task Force in the House, I have been leading the call for stricter federal regulation of EtO, greater engagement by the EPA with EtO-affected communities like ours, and expansive federal ambient air monitoring. The report from the EPA marks progress in their work to inform communities of the risk they face. It is encouraging that Illinois is not listed as an area of elevated risk, and I would like to recognize the incredible work done by the Illinois General Assembly to tighten EtO emissions standards at the state level. However, that does not mean our work on EtO is done. I will continue to push the EPA to engage with our community on this issue for a better environment and health outcomes and look forward to working with the Agency as it finalizes its regulations on commercial sterilization facilities."
Schneider is the founder and co-chair of the bipartisan Ethylene Oxide Task Force. For years, he has called on the EPA to more strictly regulate EtO, engage with communities that have been impacted by EtO emissions, and pushed for the EPA to expand its federal ambient air monitoring to all EtO-affected communities. He has also introduced bipartisan legislation to enhance the federal regulations around EtO and secured additional EPA funding in House-passed appropriations legislation specifically for EtO.
This report from the EPA outlines the highest-impacted communities facing unsafe EtO emissions and provides the full list of commercial sterilization facilities that use EtO, including a facility in the Illinois Tenth District. EPA has stated its intention of engaging with these communities to inform them of the federal work EPA is doing to curb EtO emissions and their coordination with state and local agencies.