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Foster, Duckworth, Durbin, Lipinski & Schneider Introduce Legislation to Strengthen Public Health Restrictions on Ethylene Oxide

Nov 29, 2018
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Bill Foster (D-IL) introduced H.R. 7189, the Expanding Transparency of Information and Safeguarding Toxics (EtO is Toxic) Act of 2018. The legislation would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to publish its Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) and its National Air Toxic Assessment (NATA) assessments in the Federal Registry where it would be accessible to state and local health agencies, other federal agencies, and international health organizations. This legislation comes after revelations this summer that a facility in Willowbrook, Illinois had been emitting ethylene oxide (EtO) which the EPA found in 2016 to be more carcinogenic than originally thought.

U.S. Senate companion legislation was introduced by Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and cosponsored by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL). H.R. 7189 was cosponsored by Representatives Brad Schneider (D-IL) and Dan Lipinski (D-IL).

“The EPA does critical work to protect Americans’ health and well-being and safeguard our air and water,” said Foster. “We need to ensure that when the EPA determines a chemical to be carcinogenic– such as ethylene oxide – that this information is communicated effectively and efficiently to protect human health. This legislation will ensure that the EPA utilizes the best available scientific data to evaluate chemicals in a transparent and methodical manner and communicate their findings with appropriate federal, state, and local officials. The people of Illinois and our nation deserve a government that will use the most effective tools and procedures to protect their health.”  

“Not only did our government fail to protect many Illinoisans from breathing in toxic ethylene oxide emissions, but they were far too slow to inform the public about the health risks they face. Our bill would help ensure that never happens again,” said Duckworth.

“The EPA failed residents of DuPage County and Lake County when it didn’t notify them in a timely manner of dangerously high levels of ethylene oxide being emitted by three medical sterilization facilities in the area,” Durbin said. “The bill Senator Duckworth, Representatives Foster, Lipinski, Schneider and I introduced today will close loopholes and force the EPA to do more when it comes to transparency on public health hazards in the future.”  

“The EPA has far too many rules on the books that are years out of date and do not protect public health,” said Lipinski. “I’m proud to work with Senator Duckworth and Congressman Foster to cosponsor the EtO is Toxic Act, which will hold the EPA accountable and force the agency to keep its pollution regulations in sync with the latest science.”

“When the EPA determines a chemical poses a health risk, it needs to take immediate action to protect affected communities,” said Schneider. “Our legislation makes sure the EPA does not sit on its hands when public health is at stake by requiring the EPA to quickly identify facilities using dangerous compounds and assess whether those emissions pose a risk to neighboring communities. The bill would also prevent the EPA from keeping residents in the dark by requiring all information be released to the public. This is commonsense legislation to protect the health of our communities and I am glad to join Sen. Duckworth and Rep. Foster on this effort.”

Text of the legislation is available here.