EPA to host Jan. 24 Community Meeting for residents in Villalba, Puerto Rico, on health risks from the chemical ethylene oxide, which is being emitted from a commercial sterilizer facility called Medtronics

Sample article from our Consumer Wellness

VILLALBA, Puerto Rico , January 13, 2023 (press release) –

Community meeting will focus on informing residents about potential health risks from a nearby sterilizer plant

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will host a community meeting for residents of Villalba, Puerto Rico to share information about health risks from the chemical ethylene oxide or EtO, which is being emitted from a commercial sterilizer facility called Medtronics.

The community meeting will take place on Tuesday, January 24 at 5:00 p.m. at Centro de Bellas Artes Municipal, Adrian Rosado Guzman in Villalba.

EPA Region 2 Regional Administrator Lisa F. Garcia; Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources Air Director; and Villalba Mayor Luis Javier Hernández will join EPA staff to discuss potential risks associated with emissions from the Medtronics facility at Road 149 KM. 56.3, Villalba.

Ethylene oxide – also known as EtO – is a human carcinogen emitted by some commercial sterilizers. EtO emissions from commercial sterilizers can contribute to elevated cancer risks for nearby communities.

EPA analysis indicates that the air near the Villalba facility does not exceed short-term health benchmarks. However, the concern is that a lifetime of exposure to EtO emissions could lead to long-term health impacts if risk levels are not reduced. EPA is working with facilities like this one to take appropriate steps to reduce emissions. Later this year, EPA expects to propose an air pollution regulation to protect public health by requiring more controls on EtO emissions from commercial sterilizers.

“EPA wants to make sure that we are giving people the best information about the risks posed by EtO and about what actions may already be underway or planned to reduce risks at these facilities,” said Lisa F. Garcia, EPA Regional Administrator. “We also want to engage the public as we develop new regulations with the benefit of our current understanding of the risk posed by EtO.”

Meeting Details:

Community Meeting on Tuesday, January 24, 2023; 5:00 pm (Registration) and 5:30 pm (Presentation and Community Meeting).

To register for the January 24th meeting and learn more about this facility.

EPA is continuing significant action to address EtO and advance critical EtO research. These actions include:

  • Reviewing Clean Air Act regulations for industries that emit EtO into the air, particularly rules to control air toxic emissions from commercial sterilizers and facilities that manufacture chemicals, with the goal of making these regulations more protective of health.
  • Working with state, territory, local and tribal environmental agencies to reduce EtO emissions, as soon as possible.
  • Expanding environmental reporting requirements for sterilization facilities.
  • Using enforcement options as appropriate.
  • Reevaluating how EtO is used within sterilization facilities with the goal of reducing risks to workers who handle EtO and those who are exposed in other ways.
  • Conducting research to better understand and measure EtO.
  • Using enforcement options as appropriate.

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