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Lawmakers announce new bill aimed at restricting ethylene oxide emissions

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (September 18, 2019) – A new bipartisan bill could ban the emission of ethylene oxide (EtO) for sterilization facilities statewide as early as next month.

According to the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, House Bill 3888 will phase out ethylene oxide emissions from sterilization facilities by 2021 and out of hospitals by 2022 if they are within 3.5 miles of a region with a population density of at least 10 residents per square mile. Additionally, hospitals and sterilization facilities that are not located in those areas would not be able to collectively emit more than 35 pounds of the gas each year. The measure would also require the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to file reports on where EtO is used, how much of the chemical is being used, and its potential impact on the surrounding area.

The bill will be proposed during the fall veto session and comes after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said the area around the Willowbook Stergienics plant has an increased cancer risk from an excess amount of ethylene oxide emissions in the air.

Earlier this month, DuPage County Circuit Judge Paul M. Fullerton ruled Sterigenics may be able to reopen after it was closed in February for toxic emissions. Judge Fullerton said once Sterigenics constructs new emissions control systems that have been reviewed and approved by the state EPA, it will be allowed to reopen and resume operations.

READ MORE | DuPage County judge approves proposal to allow Sterigenics plant to reopen

HB 3888 isn’t the first ethylene oxide-related measure that’s been filed by lawmakers while the legislature is out of session that they hope to bring up next month. After the court’s ruling, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin of Western Springs introduced a bill that gives local municipalities the authority to ban the use of ethylene oxide in their communities.

Lawmakers say both measures will be heard during the veto session that begins on October 28.

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