9/27/2019 10:43:00 AM Industry groups push back against proposed bans
SPRINGFIELD – Business and industry groups are pushing back against legislative efforts to widely ban the use of ethylene oxide, a known cancer-causing gas, in most Illinois communities.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, chronic exposure to the gas can cause increased cancer risks, reproductive effects and other major medical problems, while short-term exposure may result in respiratory irritation and lung injury, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and shortness of breath.
Representatives of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association, Illinois Chamber of Commerce, Illinois Biotechnology Industry Organization and the Chemical Industry Council of Illinois sent a letter to General Assembly members this week to “express our serious concerns and opposition to any additional efforts to further restrict or ban the use of ethylene oxide in Illinois.”
The group said ethylene oxide, which is used in medical supply sterilization and some manufacturing processes, is “a significant building block in the creation of an exhaustive list of life-improving products … including essential plastics and pharmaceuticals to cosmetics and clothing,” and is “the only acceptable method of sterilization for many medical devices.”
In July, a spokesperson for the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency said there are 26 facilities in Illinois permitted to use or emit ethylene oxide.
“The economic hit of an ethylene oxide ban would be significant, with an initial loss of at least 1,500 jobs in Illinois, including unionized positions,” the business and industry groups said in their letter.
The groups also pointed out that businesses have already begun making infrastructural changes to their facilities to comply with Senate Bills 1852 and 1854, a pair of bills hailed by both parties as the most stringent ethylene oxide regulations in the nation when Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed them into law in June.