Thanks, very relevant to the arts. Major museums with art conservation departments also use EtO chambers and I've dealt with a bunch including looking over the plans for the exhaust stacks for one at the British Museum of Natural History. Many historic and artistic materials are subject to mold infestation. When there are floods or other disasters, those chambers are especially busy killing mold and bacteria on artifacts.
From: Secretary, ACS Division of Chemical Health and Safety <secretary**At_Symbol_Here**DCHAS.ORG>
To: DCHAS-L <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**PRINCETON.EDU>
Sent: Fri, Aug 25, 2017 7:51 am
Subject: [DCHAS-L] EPA Ethylene Oxide (EtO) Health Benchmark update information:
From: Susan Leite <smleite**At_Symbol_Here**mit.edu>
Re: Ethylene Oxide
I received the information below from a listserv and wanted to share with this group.
Organizations that currently use ethylene oxide for sterilization (most likely hospital/medical centers/healthcare)
may find the update relevant. EPA Region 5 is interested in examples of successful EtO replacement case studies.
Ethylene Oxide (EtO) Health Benchmark update information:
EtO is listed as a hazardous air pollutant in the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments. In December 2016 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) updated its prior, experimental animal-based EtO inhalation cancer risk estimate to one based on human studies. Formerly categorized as a probable carcinogen, the 2016 update concluded that EtO is carcinogenic to humans, in agreement with the International Agency for Research on Cancer (2012). Human studies show that sufficient exposure to EtO may result in lymphoid cancer and breast cancer in females.
Depending on exposure assumptions, the updated EtO inhalation cancer risk estimate is about 30-60 times higher than prior values. This means EPA now believes EtO is considerably more potent than previously thought for inducing human cancer. Evidence considered in the 2016 update indicates that children under 16 years of age have greater susceptibility to EtO=C3=A2 =80 ™s inhalation cancer risk. The updated EtO cancer potency information supports the need to reduce EtO air emissions.
In addition to the cancer risk, EtO poses several other health hazards:
Inhaling EtO at higher concentrations can cause nausea, vomiting, and neurological disorders.
In solution, EtO can severely irritate and burn the skin, eyes and lungs.
EtO may damage the central nervous system, liver, and kidneys, or cause cataracts.
EtO is also extremely reactive and flammable, increasing the risk of chemical accidents that could injure hospital employees and patients. Even static electricity can cause EtO to ignite; therefore, employees using it should be well-trained and aware of its potential dangers. While EtO is reactive, it is sufficiently persistent in the atmosphere that EtO emissions lead to community exposure; its half-life in air ranges from 69 to 149 days. https://cfpub.epa.gov/ncea/iris2/chemicalLanding.cfm?substance_nmbr=1025.
Safety and Environmental Management Program Officer
MIT EHS Office
77 Massachusetts Avenue, Room N52-496
Cambridge, MA 02139
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