Ethylene Oxide

Ethylene oxide, abbreviated as EtO or EO, is a colorless gas with a faintly sweet odor. It is a volatile organic chemical (VOC) and a hazardous air pollutant (HAP). It is used to sterilize materials that cannot be sterilized by steam and in the production of many consumer products.

Informational Meeting

DNREC, the US EPA and Delaware DPH held a virtual informational meeting on April 13, 2022, to present information to the community regarding ethylene oxide.

Meeting Presentation

Report from Division of Public Health

Meeting Recording

Meeting Follow-up Questions and Answers

What we know about Ethylene Oxide

In December 2016 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published new data regarding the cancer risk associated with ethylene oxide. This new information increased the risk by a factor of 56.

The best way to reduce the risk associated with ethylene oxide is to reduce the ethylene oxide emissions. Given this new risk data, the DNREC Division of Air Quality reviewed emission data and permits for ethylene oxide in our state.

DNREC has worked with Croda to identify opportunities to reduce emissions of ethylene oxide. The Department continues to prioritize emission reductions as the most powerful way to reduce the health risk associated with ethylene oxide.

In 2018, EPA released their National Air Toxics Assessment (NATA) which used emissions data from 2014 to model risk. Additionally, in 2022, EPA released a new air toxics risk screening tool called AirToxScreen, which uses emissions data from 2017.

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