Issue Date: August 25, 2014
EPA Deems Ethylene Oxide A Carcinogen
Ethylene oxide (EtO), a chemical intermediate in the production of ethylene glycol, is carcinogenic to humans, concludes EPA’s latest draft hazard assessment. The chemical, which is a gas at room temperature, is also used to sterilize medical equipment and fumigate spices. EtO is carcinogenic to laboratory animals, “inducing tumors of the lymphohematopoietic system, brain, lung, connective tissue, uterus, and mammary gland,” EPA notes in its assessment. There is also “strong, but less than conclusive on its own, epidemiological evidence of lymphohematopoietic cancers and breast cancer in EtO-exposed workers,” EPA says. Some industry trade groups say the new hazard designation for EtO will force users to switch to less effective alternatives with negative public health consequences. The latest assessment builds on an earlier version, which was peer reviewed by EPA’s Science Advisory Board in 2007 and revised by EPA in 2013.
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