Sterigenics air quality measurements flawed, EPA says

WILLOWBROOK, Ill. (WLS) -- A flawed measurement may have recorded inflated levels of a dangerous chemical being emitted from a southwest suburban medical sterilization facility, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Wednesday.

Willowbrook residents have been concerned that medical sterilization company Sterigenics may be emitting dangerous levels of the chemical ethylene oxide, which can cause cancer. The Illinois EPA ordered Sterigenics to cease operations in Willowbrook in early October, until safety reviews could be completed. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan also filed a lawsuit against the company over its alleged pollution.

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The issue with the measurements, taken prior to October 2018, is that a different chemical, Trans-2-butene, may have been incorrectly identified as ethylene, artificially inflating the results of those measurements, the EPA said in a statement.

Kristin Gibbs, chief marketing officer for Sterigenics, issued a statement late Wednesday saying the EPA's disclosure of this flaw had significant implications.

"Since August, the public has been subjected to misinformation regarding the risks of exposure to EO which has created tremendous fear and concern," she said. "We remain committed to working with officials and providing the facts to reassure the public that it is safe."

The agency will host an open house and community forum Nov. 29 in Willowbrook to answer questions.

Visit the EPA's website for more information on the open house and forum or to submit a question to the agency.
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