Weekly Policy Blog: Ethylene Oxide – Critical in Protecting Patient Health

Ethylene Oxide (EtO or EO) is a colorless gas used commercially in a wide variety of ways, including the production of textiles, personal care items, and the sterilization of medical devices, cosmetics, and spices. EtO is one of the most common ways to sterilize medical devices, which is crucial for preventing infection in patients undergoing surgical procedures and other medical treatments.

EtO sterilization is a highly regulated process. Device manufacturers, hospitals, and third-party sterilizers follow rigorous controls established by FDA, EPA, OSHA, and other government agencies to protect patients, workers, and the environment.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is performing a risk assessment and updating guidance on workers’ and communities’ exposure to EtO emissions. This process has been ongoing since 2006, and guidance is expected by the end of the year. Following a study of 100 commercial sterilizer facilities, the EPA announced on August 3 that it would take steps…
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