Lake County, Ill. — Outdoor air monitoring is set to begin this week near Vantage Specialty Chemicals in Gurnee and Medline Industries in Waukegan. In partnership with the Lake County Health Department, the Village of Gurnee and City of Waukegan have hired GHD Services, Inc. to conduct the air monitoring to help officials better understand the levels of ethylene oxide (EtO) in the air.
“We are eager for the air monitoring results and look forward to reporting back to our community,” said Mark Pfister, Executive Director of the Lake County Health Department and Community Health Center. “For a health risk analysis to be completed by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and potential future action to be taken by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA), we need to know what levels of EtO are present in the air.”
Following the recommendations of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), ten air monitors are being placed in the county at four sites near Medline, four sites near Vantage, and at two remote locations which will provide background levels of EtO. The monitors pose no health risks to residents and should not be damaged, moved, or interfered with. Monitoring locations were chosen based on U.S. EPA Air Monitoring Siting Criteria and factors such as meteorological data, facility emissions and dispersion modeling, topography, and property accessibility.
Samples will be collected every third day for 30 days, with additional samples being collected on random dates. Monitoring canisters will be sent to a laboratory for analysis, and the first results are expected within a few weeks.
“We have worked very carefully with the U.S. EPA to plan this air monitoring program,” said Larry Mackey, Deputy Director of Prevention at the Health Department. “We are following their science-based protocols to ensure the results can be used for future analysis to determine potential health risks.”
Once the Health Department receives the monitoring results, data will be shared with the Village of Gurnee and City of Waukegan, then sent to the U.S. EPA, ATSDR, Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), and IEPA, which has regulatory authority over EtO emissions permitting in Illinois.
Results will be shared with the public via the Health Department’s web page, www.lakecountyil.gov/eto, which includes answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs), detailed information about the County’s actions related to EtO, and contact information for the above agencies.
ATSDR has agreed to conduct a health risk assessment for Lake County based on the results, and Health Department officials have petitioned the IDPH to complete a cancer incidence assessment similar to the Willowbrook report released March 29, 2019.
Since November 2018, the Health Department, Village of Gurnee, and City of Waukegan have urged the U.S. EPA to conduct air monitoring and conduct a town hall meeting in Lake County. Gurnee, Waukegan, and Lake County signed an intergovernmental agreement in May 2019 to split the cost of an independent air monitoring program, with each entity paying 33-1/3 percent. Contracts with GHD Services, Inc. were approved on May 20, 2019 by the Village of Gurnee and City of Waukegan. The Health Department is managing the project.
Anyone with questions about the EtO air monitoring should visit the Health Department’s website for more information, www.lakecountyil.gov/eto, or call (847) 377-8020.
For additional information on Ethylene Oxide in Gurnee, visit the Village's page at www.gurnee.il.us/eto
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