Lake County, Ill. — The Lake County Health Department, Village of Gurnee, and City of Waukegan have received the final results from their joint outdoor air monitoring for ethylene oxide (EtO) near Vantage Specialty Chemicals in Gurnee and Medline Industries in Waukegan. The results have been sent to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for a health risk assessment, and to the Illinois EPA (IEPA) which has regulatory authority over ethylene oxide emissions. The Illinois Department of Public Health will also conduct a cancer incidence study.
“We have asked for an expedited health risk assessment for Lake County,” said Mark Pfister, Executive Director of the Lake County Health Department. “After the assessment is completed, we urge the ATSDR, U.S. EPA, and IEPA to send representatives to explain the potential health risks to our residents via a public meeting. We stepped up to collect data on EtO levels in our county. Now they must interpret the data, inform our residents, and take any action necessary to protect public health.”
Air monitoring for EtO began the first week of June at 10 sites in Lake County. Samples were collected every third day until the first week of July, with additional samples collected on random dates. Vantage and Medline have also conducted independent air monitoring. With the addition of these monitoring programs, a total of 201 samples were collected in Lake County to determine ambient levels of EtO, two of which were deemed invalid due to an equipment malfunction.
The results of all three air monitoring programs have been made available to the public via the Health Department’s website, www.lakecountyil.gov/eto.
The University of Illinois at Chicago is currently recruiting participants for a study analyzing residents’ exposure to EtO. The study involves questionnaires and collection of blood samples from 100 individuals living near the Medline and Vantage facilities. Those who are interested in participating should contact Dr. Susan Buchanan at email@example.com / (312) 355-3291.
In June, the IEPA issued a construction permit to Medline Industries in Waukegan that requires additional controls and requirements to significantly reduce emissions from the facility. Recently passed Illinois laws place new requirements on Medline and Vantage including greater monitoring and emissions controls. The IEPA has agreed to fund additional air monitoring after facility upgrades at Medline and Vantage are completed.
Anyone with questions or concerns about EtO in Lake County should contact the appropriate agency below:
- S. EPA – Region 5 Hotline: firstname.lastname@example.org; (312) 353-2000 / toll-free (800) 621-8431; website: www.epa.gov/il/addressing-ethylene-oxide-emissions-lake-county-illinois.
- IEPA – Brad Frost: email@example.com; (217) 782-7027; website: www.illinois.gov/epa/topics/community-relations/sites/ethylene-oxide/Pages/default.aspx.
- ATSDR – Michelle College: firstname.lastname@example.org; (312) 886-1462; https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/substances/toxsubstance.asp?toxid=133.
- Lake County Health Department: (847) 377-8020; lakecountyil.gov/eto.
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