Information Regarding Ethylene Oxide

The Village of Gurnee 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 located at 3938 Porett Drive, Gurnee. The Village of Gurnee remains in regular communication with state and federal officials to share the concerns of the community and to receive agency and legislative updates.  The following updates have been posted by the Village of Gurnee since an article in the Chicago Tribune was published on November 2nd, 2018:

Ethylene Oxide Updates:

Status

Date

Update Summary

Update #37June 17, 2020
  • Final set of results from Phase III samples received
  • Results included five days of samples from 12 locations for a total of sixty samples
  • All results are being submitted to the ATSDR
  • Read the full update here.
Update #36May 29, 2020
  • Second set of results from Phase III samples received
  • Results included two days of samples from 10 locations for a total of twenty samples
  • First Quarter cumulative and fugitive emissions results shared by IEPA; Vantage within permit
  • Read the full update here.
Update #35May 22nd, 2020
  • First set of results from Phase III samples received
  • Results included three days of samples from 10 locations for a total of thirty samples
  • Phase III testing completed, awaiting additional sets of results from GHD Services
  • Read the full update here.
Update #34March 30th, 2020
  • IEPA reports that Medline Industries completed compliance testing for Public Act 101-22.
  • Following compliance, IEPA authorized Medline Industries to resume commercial sterilization operations using ethylene oxide.
  • Lake County Health Department, Gurnee and Waukegan to conduct additional sampling.
  • Sampling expected to resume shortly.
  • Read the full update here.

Update #33

March 6th, 2020

 

  • Fifth and final set of results from the 2nd phase of ambient air monitoring received
  • Results included nine days of testing between December 28th – January 22nd.
  • Sampling extended an additional 30 days – start date contingent on Medline Industries complying with Public Act 101-0022.
  • Read the full update here.

Update #32

February 20th, 2020

  • A report from the law firm of Klein, Thorpe and Jenkins Ltd. that evaluates the Village’s authority to regulate and ban the chemical ethylene oxide.
  • The Klein, Thorpe and Jenkins report concludes that the Village does not have the authority under current law to impose additional regulations which would ban the use and/or emissions of ethylene oxide at a facility within its borders.
  • Gurnee approves additional air sampling.
  • Read the full update here.

Update #31

February 12th, 2020

  • IEPA Announces that Medline Industries, Inc. in Waukegan will soon begin emissions control testing as required under P.A. 101-22.
  • Attorney General and IEPA required Medline to cease ethylene oxide operations when they did not meet the December 18th, 2019 deadline as required under the Matt Haller Act.
  • Once testing is completed, the facility must cease the use of ethylene oxide operations until all stack test and modeling reports are prepared. If the facility fails to meet requirements, they must successfully repeat emissions testing prior to resuming operations.
  • Read the full update here

Update #31

January 27th, 2020

  • Phase II of EtO monitoring occurred from October 26 and ended January 22, 2020.
  • Over 350 samples collected from 12 locations on 30 sampling days.
  • 14 of these sampling days occurred during the temporary shutdown of EtO operations at Medline Industries (Waukegan).
  • Third and final planned phase of monitoring will resume to monitor Medline's newly installed emission controls. It is anticipated this may be in February but it is dependent on when emission controls are operational.
  • Read the full update here.

Update #30

January 15th, 2020

  • Fourth set of results from the 2nd phase of ambient air monitoring received
  • Results included eight days of testing between December 4th – December 25th
  • Testing originally through January 2020 and is funded by the IEPA
  • Testing extended an additional 30 days through February 2020.
  • Read the full update here.
Update #29January 8th, 2020
  • Third set of results from the 2nd phase of ambient air monitoring received
  • Results included five days of testing between November 19th – December 2nd
  • Testing continuing through January 2020 and is funding by the IEPA
  • Read the full update here.

Update #28

December 19th, 2019

  • IEPA issues construction permit to Vantage limiting EtO emissions to 110lbs per calendar year: https://bit.ly/36ZdC5J
  • IEPA provides responses to questions asked during construction permit Public Comment period: https://bit.ly/2S6xJuw
  • US EPA has released an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for Commercial Sterilization: https://bit.ly/2EuotYP
  • US EPA is proposing amendments to the 2003 Miscellaneous Organic Chemical Manufacturing National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP): https://bit.ly/2r5KnyB
  • Village website updated to include user-friendly, abbreviated EtO updates: www.gurnee.il.us/eto
  • Continuous monitoring equipment on Vantage emissions stack now operational.
  • Read the full update here.

Update #27:

December 12th, 2019
  • November 4 – 17, 2019 monitoring results received.
  • Higher readings were recorded at two locations on November 13/14, 2019, specifically at site V2 (SE corner of Northwestern & Keith) at 8.86 ug/m3 (4.91ppb) and at site V1 (Spaulding School) at 5.29 ug/m3 (2.93ppb).
  • On November 16th/17, the V2 site had a recording of 0.05 ug/m3 (0.0293ppb) and the V1 site was at 0.23 ug/m3 (0.125ppb).
  • On November 16/17, the wind currents were recorded as blowing towards site V5 (36016 N. Delany), which registered a recorded reading at 0.27 ug/m3 (0.150ppb).
  • Meeting set for January 12, 2020 at the Warren Newport Public Library to discuss the UIC School of Public Health blood sampling study results.
  • Construction Updates at Vantage facility:
  • Continuous monitoring equipment on emission stack has been installed and will be operational during the week of December 16th.
  • Work to reduce components that may result in fugitive emissions continues.
  • Read the full update here.

Update #26:

November 26th, 2019
  • The Lake County Health Department has received the first set of results from the second phase of ethylene oxide (EtO) air monitoring. The initial results include samples collected on three separate days from October 26 to November 2, 2019.
  • This phase of the air monitoring is set to continue through January 2020 and is being funded by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Read the full update here.

Update #25: 

November 15th, 2019
  • HB3888 did not make it out of the Senate Executive Committee and therefore did not advance during the Veto Session. Elected officials at the State level have commented they will revisit the issue in the Spring session.
  • Read the full update here.

Status Update

November 14th, 2019
  • On November 14th, 2019, the IEPA held a formal public meeting to accept oral comments on a draft construction permit for Vantage Specialties, Inc. that will place a cap of 110lbs per year on its ethylene oxide emissions, of which no more that 60lbs per year can be fugitive emissions.

Update #24

November 11th, 2019

  • On November 6, 2019, the EPA updated its website containing information on EtO. According to its update, the EPA has worked to understand background levels of EtO. After analyzing results from longstanding monitoring locations across the country, in both rural and urban areas, the EPA confirmed the presence of ethylene oxide, with six-month averages ranging from 0.2 to about 0.4 micrograms per cubic meter.
  • Based on sampling conducted between June 6, 2019 – July 7, 2019 by GHD Services on behalf of the Lake County Health Department and Village of Gurnee, as well as separate sampling conducted by GHD Services for Vantage Specialty Inc. over the same time period, the following averages and medians have been calculated:
  • Average and median if “non-detect” results are assigned a value of .072 micrograms per cubic meter (method detection limit):
  • Average:  0.243 micrograms per cubic meter.
  • Median: 0.17 micrograms per cubic meter.
  • Average and Median if “non-detect” results were removed from calculations:
  • Average: 0.301 micrograms per cubic meter.
  • Median:  0.22 micrograms per cubic meter.
  • Read the full update here.

Update #23

 November 5th, 2019

  • A second round of outdoor air monitoring for ethylene oxide (EtO) began the week of October 21, 2019 near Vantage Specialty Chemicals in Gurnee and Medline Industries in Waukegan. In partnership with the Lake County Health Department and Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA), the Village of Gurnee and City of Waukegan have contracted GHD Services, Inc. to conduct an additional 90-day period of air monitoring to determine levels of ethylene oxide in the air. Samples will be collected every third day during the 90-day period, slated to end in January 2020.
  • On October 30, 2019, the IEPA announced that a formal public meeting to accept oral comments on a draft construction permit that will place a cap on ethylene oxide emissions from Vantage Specialties, Inc. will take place at the College of Lake County Auditorium on Thursday, November 14th, 2019 from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
  • The Illinois EPA Bureau of Air drafted a permit that would set an annual cap on emissions of ethylene oxide from the plant of 110 pounds per year of which no more than 60 pounds may be fugitive emissions from components.
  • Two bills related to ethylene oxide were recently introduced in the House during the Veto Session.
  • Read the full update here 

Update #22

October 23rd, 2019
  • On October 2, 2019 the Mayor and entire Board of Trustees attended the informational town hall session on ethylene oxide hosted by Senator Melinda Bush. A recording of the session has been posted on the Village’s YouTube channel.
  • Two bills related to ethylene oxide were recently introduced in the House and could be discussed during the upcoming Veto Session.
  • Read the full update here.

Status Update

October 21st, 2019
  • Village of Gurnee Board approves an Intergovernmental Agreement with the State of Illinois to provide funding for additional air monitoring. 

Update #21

October 7th, 2019
  • Senator Melinda Bush hosted a Town Hall Meeting on Wednesday, October 2nd at the College of Lake County. Members of the public, as well as representatives from numerous public bodies, including the Mayor and entire Gurnee Village Board, were in attendance to hear from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).
  • Read the full update here.

Update #20

October 2nd, 2019
  • The multi-agency informational town hall session on ethylene oxide was held on Wednesday, October 2nd, from 6:30pm to 8:00pm.
  • The session was held at the College of Lake County Auditorium A011.
  • The event was an opportunity for those in attendance to hear from the agencies responsible for regulating air quality.
  • Mayor Kovarik and the entire Village of Gurnee Board were in attendance at the meeting.
  • Read the full update here.

Update #19

September 20th, 2019
  • Senator Melinda Bush, in conjunction with Lake County, Lake County Health Department, City of Waukegan and Village of Gurnee, announced a multi-agency informational town hall session on ethylene oxide would be held on Wednesday, October 2nd, from 6:30pm to 8:00pm.
  • Senator Bush also announced additional State funding to support additional ambient air monitoring around the Medline and Vantage sites. This is in addition to 30-days of monitoring sponsored by the Lake County Health Department, City of Waukegan and Village of Gurnee, as well as separate monitoring funded by the facilities themselves.
  • Vantage Specialty, Inc. has reported that pursuant to Public Act 101-0023 the company is in the process of providing the IEPA a plan for continuously collecting emissions information, as well as dispersion modeling. This information is due at the end of the year.
  • Two new bills related to ethylene oxide have recently been introduced in the House.
  • Read the full update here

Update #18

August 14th, 2019
  • 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.
  • Read the full update here.

Update #17

August 7th, 2019
  • Vantage Specialty provided the Lake County Health Department with a series of 60 air samples that were recorded from June 9th to July 7th, 2019.
  • Read the full update here

Update #16

July 23rd, 2019
  • The Lake County Health Department, Village of Gurnee, and City of Waukegan received the third set of results from their joint outdoor air monitoring for ethylene oxide (EtO) near Vantage Specialty Chemicals in Gurnee and Medline Industries in Waukegan.
  • Read the full update here.

Update #15

June 21st, 2019
  • The Lake County Health Department, Village of Gurnee, and City of Waukegan received the first set of results from their joint outdoor air monitoring for ethylene oxide (EtO) near Vantage Specialty Chemicals in Gurnee and Medline Industries in Waukegan.
  • The preliminary results indicate the presence of EtO at elevated levels at one location in Waukegan, and at varying and lower levels at all other sites.
  • The results showed that the highest levels were detected at the sampling location nearest the Medline facility, with the highest reading being 10 ug/m3 collected on June 7-8, 2019.
  • Read the full update here

Update #14

June 19th, 2019
  • Emissions testing on the stack to determine the increase in efficiency with the additional scrubbers on-line was performed on May 21st under IEPA supervision. This testing was for a continuous 24-hour period with results forthcoming.
  • Read the full update here.

Status Update

June 17th, 2019
  • On June 17th, 2019, the Gurnee Village Board approved an Intergovernmental Agreement with the IEPA. Pursuant to the agreement, the IEPA will provide $62,500 in funding to be used to conduct additional ambient air sampling following the permitting and installation of additional controls and instrumentation at Vantage Specialty, Inc

Update #13

June 3rd, 2019
  • Outdoor air monitoring began 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.
  • Read the full update here.

Status Update

May 20th, 2019
  • On May 20th, over thirty stakeholders came together to receive a report from U.S. EPA Region 5 and IEPA related to EtO in Lake County.
  • On May 20th, the governing boards of both the Village of Gurnee and City of Waukegan approved an Intergovernmental Agreement with the Lake County Health Department related to ambient air monitoring. The communities also approved an agreement with GHD Services, Inc. to conduct ethylene oxide ambient air sampling.

Update #12

May 8th, 2019
  • On April 10, 2019, the Lake County Health Department received confirmation that the National Center for Environmental Health/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) will perform a health risk assessment on the impact of ethylene oxide emissions from Vantage Specialty, Inc. in Gurnee and Medline Industries, Inc. in Waukegan.
  • The installation of two dry scrubbers to further reduce stack emissions has been completed and both units are operational. These additional dry scrubbers will work in conjunction with existing wet scrubbers. Vantage is currently working with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) to develop a testing plan for stack emissions now that the additional scrubbers are online. This testing is planned for May 2019.
  • Read the full update here.

Update #11

April 8th, 2019
  • On March 26, 2019, LCHD Executive Director Mark Pfister formally petitioned the National Center for Environmental Health/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) to perform a health risk assessment based on ambient EtO air quality sampling results expected to be collected in June of 2019.
  • The Village of Gurnee met with the Lake County Health Department and the City of Waukegan on April 3rd to discuss a preliminary testing plan for both Lake County sites.
  • Installation of a second (dry) scrubber to further reduce stack emissions is nearing completion.  The second scrubber will be activated the week of April 15, 2019. Follow-up emissions testing on the stack is planned for May 2019.
  • Read the full update here.

Update #10

March 11th, 2019
  • Mayor Kristina Kovarik submitted Witness Slips in support of three bills introduced by State Senator John Curran related to ethylene oxide, as well as a Senate Joint Resolution related to the issue.
  • Residents were invited to fill out a Witness Slip prior to 11:00 a.m. on March 14th, 2019.
  • Read the full update here.

Update #9

March 1st, 2019
  • On February 28, 2019, Health Department Executive Director Mark Pfister met with Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) Director John Kim, Illinois Senator Melinda Bush, Gurnee Mayor Kristina Kovarik, and Waukegan Mayor Sam Cunningham to discuss options for ambient air monitoring in Lake County. 
  • Read the full update here.

Update #8

February 21st, 2019
  • The U.S. EPA updated their Lake County webpage with additional information and frequently asked questions.
  • Read the full update here.

Update #7

February 20th, 2019
  • The January 28, 2019 Gurnee Village Board meeting included a presentation on ethylene oxide from multiple presenters including State Senator Melinda Bush. At this meeting the Senator stated that she expected legislation to address ethylene oxide concerns to be introduced in the coming weeks.
  • On February 15, 2019, State Senator John Curran introduced three new bills in the 101st General Assembly related to ethylene oxide.
  • The IEPA confirmed the testing protocols proposed by Vantage are “independent” and will provide comprehensive information to assess health risks associated with the facility. The IEPA confirmed that ambient air testing is predominately conducted by third-party firms hired by the company being tested.
  • In coordination with the U.S. EPA, Vantage submitted revised historical emission estimates from 2010-2016.  For those years, Vantage had used conservative EPA estimation methods. Vantage’s revised emission reports for 2010-2016 
  • draw upon actual emissions testing data and is substantially lower than previously reported figures.
  • Read the full update here.

Update #6

January 28th, 2019 
  • The January 28, 2019 Gurnee Village Board meeting included a presentation on ethylene oxide from multiple presenters including Lake County Health Department Deputy Director Larry Mackey, Village Attorney Bryan Winter, Fire Chief John Kavanagh and State Senator Melinda Bush. At this meeting the Senator stated that she expected legislation to address ethylene oxide concerns to be introduced in the coming weeks.
  • Read the full update here.

Update #5

January 18th, 2019
  • Village staff met with representatives from Vantage Specialty, Inc. on January 14, 2019 and received an update on efforts to reduce ethylene oxide emissions. Vantage reported that plans to install a second (dry) scrubber to further reduce stack emissions remains on schedule for implementation in the first quarter of 2019.
  • On January 6, 2019, the Lake County Health Department provided additional information concerning its efforts to date related to the use of the chemical ethylene oxide. The County released information obtained from the IEPA that the Vantage facility received a violation notice in 2015 and 2016.
  • On January 17, 2019, the Village participated in a conference call with the IEPA to receive an update concerning the Agency’s review of the Vantage facility located in Gurnee and Medline facility located in Waukegan.
  • Read the full update here.

Update #4

December 14th, 2018
  • On Monday, December 3rd, Mayor Kovarik, Congressman Brad Schneider, representatives from Senator Tammy Duckworth and Senator Dick Durbin’s offices, State Senator Melinda Bush, Lake County Chairwoman Sandy Hart, Lake County Board Members Steve Carlson Paul Frank and Village Administrator Pat Muetz met with Vantage Specialty Chemical’s senior management and participated in a plant tour.
  • Read the full update here.

Status Update

November 28th, 2018
  • On Wednesday, November 28th, the Village was invited to participate in a conversation with the U.S. EPA Region 5 and U.S. EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation Bill Wehrum. The meeting was primarily an opportunity for the U.S. EPA to provide background information on the process for modeling toxic emissions used for the National Air Toxics Assessment maps and the data gathered for the Toxic Release Inventory Reports.
  • The EPA explained the reason for increased scrutiny and the next steps going forward.
  • As it relates to Vantage Specialty Chemicals, the U.S. EPA reaffirmed Vantage will be voluntarily installing a secondary scrubber on its emissions stack with the construction expected to take place in the first quarter of 2019. It also stated that voluntary fence line testing at Vantage will be conducted under EPA guidelines, including the EPA reviewing the test plans and providing input on any improvements to the plan it deems necessary. This testing was conducted over a 30 day period, 24 hours a day.
  • At its meeting with the U.S. EPA on November 28th, the U.S. EPA indicated that it would not be conducting ambient air testing related to the Vantage facility located in Gurnee.  The U.S. EPA confirmed Vantage had advised that it would conduct voluntary perimeter testing at the Gurnee site.

Update #3

November 21st, 2018
  • The U.S. EPA has put together a website for Lake County ethylene oxide sites with information on both facilities.
  • Read the full update here.

Update #2

November 16th, 2018
  • The U.S. EPA advised the County of Lake and the Village of Gurnee that the Agency will launch a Lake County section on its website to communicate the most current information available on the situation.
  • The U.S. EPA has created an email address that can be used to ask questions and express concerns at eto@epa.gov.
  • The U.S. EPA has further advised the Village that Vantage Specialty Chemicals, Inc., located in Gurnee, has provided equipment monitoring results to the Agency.
  • Vantage has voluntarily committed to implementing an air monitoring program at the perimeter of its property utilizing guidance provided by the IEPA.
  • Read the full update here.

Update #1

November 2nd, 2018
  • The Village of Gurnee has been in contact with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concerning air quality regulations as it relates to the use of the chemical ethylene oxide by Vantage Specialty Chemical (3938 Porett Drive).
  • The EPA updated its risk value for ethylene oxide and is working with industry and state air agencies to further evaluate the use of this chemical.
  • The Village has been advised that Vantage Specialty Chemicals Inc. is cooperating with the EPA to provide additional information about its current emissions control equipment and perimeter testing to be conducted at the facility, the results of which will be provided to the EPA.
  • Read the full update here.

Status Update

October 22, 2018
  • On October 22nd, 2018 the US EPA reached out to the Village of Gurnee notifying the Village of the use ethylene oxide by Vantage Specialty Chemical (3938 Porett Drive). This was the first notification the Village received regarding ethylene oxide emissions in Gurnee. 
  • The US EPA stated that an upcoming article in the Chicago Tribune was expected, and contact from the US EPA was to provide the Village with background information on the 2014 National Air Toxics Assessment and the 2016 EPA Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) that redefined the risk modeling for non-occupational exposure to ethylene oxide
  • The Village began fact-finding and researching ethylene oxide to provide information to residents and the community regarding the use of the chemical.

Ethylene Oxide FAQ

  1. What is ethylene oxide and what are its uses?
  2. Ethylene oxide, or EtO, is a gas at room temperature. There are two key uses for ethylene oxide: 1) It is used to make other chemicals that produce many everyday products and 2) It is used to sterilize devices that can’t be sterilized using steam, such as some medical and dental equipment.
     
    Ethylene oxide is reacted to make ethylene glycol, which is a key ingredient in a variety of consumer household products. Ethylene oxide is an essential building block for synthetic fibers (e.g., upholstery, carpet), plastics, PVC pipe and cosmetics.
  3. When did the EPA classify ethylene oxide as a carcinogen?
  4. EPA classified ethylene oxide as a human carcinogen in December 2016. Studies of workers show that their exposures to ethylene oxide are associated with an increased risk of cancers of the white blood cells (the infection-fighting cells of the immune system). Studies also showed an increased risk of breast cancer in females.
  5. Are levels of ethylene oxide in my area high enough to cause immediate health effects?
  6. Based on available data, the US EPA does not expect ethylene oxide levels in the air around facilities to be high enough to cause immediate health effects.
    The short-term (one-hour) estimated levels in the air are well below levels that may immediately cause serious, long-lasting or irreversible noncancerous health effects.
    The mid-term estimated levels (two weeks to one year) and the long-term estimated levels in the air are also below levels that may cause noncancerous health effects.
    EPA is working with states to gather additional information from facilities that will help us better understand what the ethylene oxide levels are in the air.
  7. Are children at risk?
  8. EPA is taking steps to reduce ethylene oxide in the air to reduce risk. The greatest risk is for people who have lived near a facility releasing ethylene oxide into the air for their entire lifetime. For a single year of exposure to ethylene oxide, the cancer risk is greater for children than for adults. This is because ethylene oxide can damage DNA. For everyone, including children, risks would decrease with decreased exposure.
  9. What ambient air concentrations of ethylene oxide are acceptable/safe?
  10. Ethylene oxide is one of 187 pollutants that Congress classified as “hazardous air pollutants,” also called “air toxics.” The Clean Air Act instructs the U.S. EPA to regulate air toxics by setting limits on the amount of pollution that industrial sources can emit to the air, rather than by setting ambient standards, which are limits on the amount of a pollutant that is allowed in the outdoor air. So, the Agency does not have a “bright line,” or a level for ethylene oxide below which air quality is considered OK. 
     
    EPA considers any exposure, however small, to a carcinogen to create some cancer risk. EPA has typically not attempted to address estimated cancer risks caused by emissions from an individual facility if the risks to the most exposed person are below 1 in a million, or in some cases, if they are below 100 in a million.
     
    The concentration of ethylene oxide associated with a 1-in-a-million cancer risk, for a lifetime of continuous exposure, is 0.0002 ug/m3. The concentration of ethylene oxide associated with a 100-in-a-million cancer risk, for a lifetime of continuous exposure, is 0.02 ug/m3.
  11. Is ethylene oxide produced by the human body?
  12. Yes, our bodies produce ethylene oxide when metabolizing ethylene, which is produced naturally in the body. The percentage of ethylene converted to ethylene oxide in the body is unknown, but expected to be low
  13. 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.
  14. Does NATA reflect up-to-date conditions?
  15. No. The current NATA released in 2018 is based on estimates of emissions in 2014. Changes in actual emissions, as well as corrections to the emissions inventory, will change our understanding of risks. For instance, emissions from Vantage were not included in the 2018 NATA due to an error in the National Emissions Inventory.
  16. What does NATA estimate is the cancer risk from exposure to air toxics?
  17. NATA is a screening tool, intended to help U.S. EPA and state, local and tribal air agencies determine if areas, pollutants or types of pollution sources need to be examined further to better understand risks to public health. NATA provides broad estimates of the risk of developing cancer and other serious health effects over census tracts across the country. It does not estimate any person’s individual risk.  Based on NATA, the U.S. EPA estimates that the average cancer risk across the U.S. population, specifically due to air toxics, to be 30 in a million.
  18. How can I find the estimated cancer risk for where I live?
  19. To see NATA results for specific areas, go to the 2014 NATA map application map. The colors in the NATA map are based on estimates of risks, which are a combination of emissions, how those emissions spread in the air, and exposure to people.
  20. What is the EPA doing to reduce ethylene oxide in my area and across the country?
  21. The US EPA is taking a two-pronged approach to finding opportunities to reduce ethylene oxide emissions:

    EPA is reviewing Clean Air Act regulations for facilities that emit ethylene oxide:

    • 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 is also getting additional information on ethylene oxide emissions:

    • 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.
  22. What are the largest sources of ethylene oxide emissions in Lake County, IL?
  23. The US EPA believes that the largest sources of ethylene oxide emissions in Lake County are Medline, a commercial sterilizer located in Waukegan, and Vantage, a chemical production facility in Gurnee. 
  24. What are the estimated emissions at Vantage?
  25. Vantage estimates that they emitted 1,547 pounds of emissions of ethylene oxide in 2017, including 701 pounds from controlled emissions stacks and 811 pounds from “fugitive” sources, such as leaking valves and other equipment. Vantage considers this estimate to be more accurate than what they previously reported to the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI).
  26. Why have estimated emissions from Vantage changed?
  27. Vantage, until recently, used an unsupported emissions factor to estimate fugitive EtO emissions; this factor was based on a percentage of ethylene oxide use. Recently, Vantage began to utilize information available through the facility’s leak detection and repair (LDAR) program to develop a better estimate of fugitive emissions. They submitted an improved estimate of emissions to the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) for 2017 emissions, after having already submitted a 2017 estimate. The updated estimate should appear in the TRI update in March 2019. Vantage has updated their fugitive emissions estimates back to 2010, when their LDAR program began. They have also updated their TRI estimates of point source emissions for emissions for 2012 and beyond based on the emissions control device efficiency demonstrated during a stack test conducted in late 2016.  
  28. Can Vantage reduce these emissions?
  29. 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

  30. Is the EPA Planning to monitor ethylene oxide concentrations in the air near Medline and Vantage?
  31. EPA does not currently plan to monitor ethylene oxide concentrations in Lake County, although EPA is providing technical support to the Lake County Health Department, which is conducting ambient air monitoring. Vantage and Medline have also  conducted additional emissions monitoring.
  32. Is EPA Planning to model ethylene oxide concentrations in the air near facilities in Lake County?
  33. Illinois EPA required both facilities to model their post-control ethylene oxide emissions to verify that permitted controls would be protective of public health.
  34. What are the levels of EtO in the air in Lake County?
  35. Lake County Health Department is now posting EtO air concentrations from its 2019 air monitoring results: Lake County EtO Monitoring Results.  Air sampling location maps and wind roses showing wind speed, duration and direction are also included.