Ethylene oxide, at room temperature, is a colorless gas with a sweet odor. It is commonly used as a sterilizing agent in manufacturing plants that make medical products. People who live and work near manufacturing plants who release ethylene oxide into the air are at risk for ethylene oxide exposure (“ETO”) and contamination.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (the EPA) undertook a 10-year study on the potential dangers associated with exposure to ethylene oxide. By 2016, the EPA had determined that ethylene oxide was far more dangerous than scientists had previously believed. Based on this finding, the EPA moved ethylene oxide in 2016 from a list of chemicals that probably could cause cancer to a list of chemicals that definitely caused cancer.