Ethylene Oxide FAQs
The Village of Gurnee has compiled the following list of frequently asked questions and answers regarding Ethylene Oxide (EtO).
For additional information, please visit the Ethylene Oxide Updates page. The Village continues to work with county, state and federal officials to address concerns regarding the use of the chemical ethylene oxide (EtO), at the Vantage Specialty, Inc facility and regularly posts agency and legislative updates to the EtO udates page.
Ethylene Oxide FAQ
- What is ethylene oxide and what are its uses?
- When did the EPA classify ethylene oxide as a carcinogen?
- Are levels of ethylene oxide in my area high enough to cause immediate health effects?
- Are children at risk?
- What ambient air concentrations of ethylene oxide are acceptable/safe?
- Is ethylene oxide produced by the human body?
- What is the National Air Toxics Assessment?
- EPA’s National Air Toxics Assessment, or NATA, is a nationwide screening tool. Its purpose is to help air quality agencies determine if they need to look closer at particular areas, pollutants, or types of pollution sources to better understand risks to public health.
- NATA estimates potential risk from long-term exposure to 180 different pollutants called “air toxics.” It estimates potential risk across the entire U.S., at the census tract level.
- NATA is not considered a full risk assessment, and cannot tell any one person if they are going to get cancer or the cause of cancer that they did get. But it did identify ethylene oxide in some parts of the country as an issue that needs to be addressed.
- The 2014 National Air Toxic Assessment identified cancer risks from air toxics by census tract. Why did we not find about this until August of 2018?
- In August of 2018, EPA released its 2014 NATA. It is called the 2014 NATA because it is based on 2014 air emission levels.
- For the 2014 NATA, EPA used new estimates of the cancer potency of ethylene oxide that were issued in December of 2016 and not available for the previous version of NATA (2011). This means that in the 2014 NATA, more areas show elevated risks caused by ethylene oxide than in the 2011 NATA. This does not necessarily mean there is more of this compound in the air in these places than before.
- Does NATA reflect up-to-date conditions?
- What does NATA estimate is the cancer risk from exposure to air toxics?
- How can I find the estimated cancer risk for where I live?
- What is the EPA doing to reduce ethylene oxide in my area and across the country?
- EPA has begun reviewing its air toxics emissions standards for miscellaneous organic chemical manufacturing facilities, some of which emit ethylene oxide.
- EPA also plans to take a closer look at its rules for other types of facilities, beginning with its emissions standards for commercial sterilizers.
- EPA also is gathering additional information on industrial emissions of ethylene oxide, which may include data from testing at facilities.
- This information will help EPA as it looks for opportunities to reduce ethylene oxide emissions as part of its regulations review.
- It also will help us determine whether more immediate emission reduction steps are necessary in any particular locations.
- What are the largest sources of ethylene oxide emissions in Lake County, IL?
- What are the estimated emissions at Vantage?
- Why have estimated emissions from Vantage changed?
- Can Vantage reduce these emissions?
- Is the EPA Planning to monitor ethylene oxide concentrations in the air near Medline and Vantage?
- Is EPA Planning to model ethylene oxide concentrations in the air near facilities in Lake County?
- What are the levels of EtO in the air in Lake County?
EPA is reviewing Clean Air Act regulations for facilities that emit ethylene oxide:
EPA is also getting additional information on ethylene oxide emissions:
Yes. Vantage has installed an additional pollution control device at its facility and has committed to performing ambient air monitoring around its facility. Illinois EPA has proposed a permit for this facility that limits total emissions of ethylene oxide from the facility to 110 pounds per year, starting in 2020.
You can also check at for updated information at Illinois EPA information on Ethylene Oxide