Ethylene oxide (EtO) is a highly versatile flammable, colorless gas used in various industries, including healthcare, agriculture, and manufacturing. While it plays a crucial role in sterilizing medical equipment, enhancing crop yield, and producing everyday products, it also poses significant occupational hazards to those who work with it. Employers and workers must be aware of these risks and take appropriate measures to mitigate them by implementing strict safety protocols, using engineering controls, and providing proper training and equipment.
Due to the environmental risks and public health risks associated with EtO, regulatory agencies have established stringent guidelines and regulations for emissions, waste management, reporting and monitoring, and worker safety.
In Southern California, the South Coast Air Quality Management District is working on more restrictive regulations that will require warehouses that receive and store products treated with EtO to track and report their inventory, as well as perform emissions monitoring, controls, and emissions reporting. Requirements will likely include fenceline monitoring, stack emissions and source testing, and conducting an emissions study. The first regulatory reporting deadline is currently scheduled for June 1, 2025, for a recording period of April 1, 2024 through March 31, 2025.
There are also worker health and safety regulations enforced by Cal/OSHA that require worker training, exposure monitoring, medical surveillance, respiratory protection, and engineering and work practice controls to limit exposures. These regulations provide critical safety precautions due to health hazards associated with EtO exposure, including carcinogenicity, respiratory effects, and reproductive and developmental effects.
Citadel EHS has a deep bench of EHS subject matter experts ready to support clients with meeting compliance with existing regulatory requirements by developing actionable recommendations that make sense for your business. And we can help your business to find sustainable business solutions and prepare to meet the challenges of this evolving issue.