The Environmental Protection Agency on Sept. 20 met with Hardyston Township to discuss health risks of Ethylene Oxide (EtO). being emitted from Cosmed Group, Inc.
EPA scientists and analysts did a risk assessment and collected data from the Cosmed Group and other sterilization facilities, and the preliminary report from July 2022 showed concern that the emissions from the Cosmed Group showed an elevated risk of cancer.
After this initial preliminary report in July, the Cosmed Group took preventative measures to decrease the amount of EtO being emitted from their facility. In August of 2022, Cosmed informed the EPA that emissions to the atmosphere were far less harmful than the preliminary analysis from July, 2022.
The Cosmed Group is located at 19 Park Drive in Hardyston and is a sterilization plant for medical equipment, spices and nuts. The meeting was also available to residents to attend via zoom. More than 80 residents from Hardyston, Franklin and Hamburg were in attendance, with 50 sent via Zoom and more than 30 people were present in person.
Rich Ruvo, Director of Air and Radiation at the office of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Region 2, explained that the company uses ethylene oxide to sterilize the medical equipment and the emissions from the facility was originally believed to present a health risk. The company has been in operation since 1997 and the company installed a catalytic oxidizer to manage emissions in the same year.
Ethylene oxide (EtO) is a odorless, colorless and flammable gas.
The EPA is working with local and state agencies, communities and facilities to decrease the risk from ethylene oxide risks. The amount of emissions that is filtered out through the catalytic oxidizer is consistently being monitored and the findings was that there is no short term indication of cancer risks.
Ruvo went on to say that there is no indication of a risk from consumer use of products made with or sterilized with EtO, no risk in soil or water, and no acute or emergency health impacts. In addition, Ruvo shared in the presentation that “breathing in EtO over many years may cause breast cancer and lymphoid cancer. This would be over a span of 70 years or more with consistent exposure on a daily basis, seven days a week, 24 hours a day.
A few actions are being taken to reduce the amount of emissions escaping from vents and doors of the facility. Pollution control equipment is being installed in the Cosmed Group facilities throughout the state of New Jersey and across the country. Capture systems are being installed to collect the emissions which reduce the amount entering the outside atmosphere.
The Cosmed facility in Hardyston sterilizes medical devices. The Cosmed facility in Linden, New Jersey sterilizes spices. The Environmental Protection Agencies regional headquarters is located in New York City.