What Is Ethylene Oxide?
Ethylene oxide is a flammable, colorless gas that is used in several industrial firms nationwide. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), ethylene oxide is used in the production of:
- Textiles; and
- Polyurethane foam.
In addition to being used in the production of the above materials, ethylene oxide can also be found in sterilants for spices and cosmetics, sterilization of surgical equipment, and fumigants.
Exposure to ethylene oxide can be dangerous. The dangers of exposure will be discussed in more detail below.
How Ethylene Oxide Exposure Occurs
If you don’t work in an industrial firm that manufacturers one of the above products, then you may assume that you are safe from ethylene oxide exposure. However, this is not necessarily the case. While it is true that workers in the above manufacturing and production industries are indeed at an increased risk of exposure, exposure can occur in other ways, too.
To be sure, companies and industrial firms that use ethylene oxide in production may emit this toxin into the air, contaminating the air for surrounding persons and communities. In fact, a report published by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2018 identified 109 census tracts nationwide that are at an increased risk of cancer due to airborne toxin exposure of ethylene oxide.