Duckworth, Durbin & Foster Ask EPA & Sterigenics to Test Air Quality in Willowbrook for Cancer-Causing Chemicals
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Representative Bill Foster (D-IL-11) wrote to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and to Willowbrook-based Sterigenics asking them both to immediately conduct testing for local air quality for emissions of ethylene oxide, which has been found to cause cancer and is classified by the EPA as a known carcinogen. Sterigenics uses ethylene oxide to sterilize medical products and equipment. The Members of Congress requested the EPA and Sterigenics make their results available to the general public and that the company also provide personal exposure tests to Willowbrook residents.
“A recent investigation on the air quality in Willowbrook has led to concerns that Sterigenics operations could be adversely affecting public health,” the Members of Congress wrote. “The EPA must monitor the ambient air at Sterigenics and ensure that data is publicly accessible. This transparency will help Willowbrook residents and workers at the facility determine whether a public health risk exists and go a long way in reassuring the community that the information being relayed to them is accurate and without bias.”
The Members of Congress also asked the EPA to conduct testing for ethylene oxide emissions at facilities across the country that use the dangerous chemical as well as explain why a report on the public health hazards and elevated cancer risks posed by Sterigenics’ ethylene oxide emissions was abruptly removed from the EPA’s website, noting how that has caused confusion, anxiety and hardship on the neighboring community. The report was produced by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to the 2014 National Air Toxins Assessment map, residents of Willowbrook have the second highest risk of cancer of any community in the country.
A copy of the letter to EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler and Region 5 Administrator Cathy Stepp is available online here. A copy of the letter to Sterigenics Senior Vice President Kathleen Hoffman is available online here.