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Cook County toxic chemical injury attorney ethylene oxideIn 2018, people in the Chicago area became aware of the significant dangers posed by a toxic chemical. Sterigenics International, a company that sterilizes medical equipment, was found to be emitting ethylene oxide, a known carcinogen, from its facility in Willowbrook. A variety of legal challenges have been raised against the Willowbrook plant, but due to its decades in operation, people in the surrounding communities, including Hinsdale and Burr Ridge, are at risk of serious personal injuries.

Changing Laws and Regulations Regarding Ethylene Oxide

While Sterigenics has claimed that its Willowbrook plant was operating within the emissions regulations set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the EPA reported in 2018 that people in the surrounding areas were at an elevated risk of contracting cancer due to the presence of ethylene oxide in the atmosphere. As a response, a variety of legal complaints were lodged against Sterigenics, and in February 2019, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker issued an order to shut down the facility.

In the ensuing months, Sterigenics was able to reach an agreement with Illinois lawmakers and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to reopen the plant, as long as new equipment was installed to drastically reduce the amount of ethylene oxide emissions. However, people in the community and public officials continued to fight against the facility being able to operate in Willowbrook. In September 2019, Sterigenics announced that it would be permanently closing the plant and that it would no longer operate sterilization facilities in the state of Illinois.

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Willowbrook ethylene oxide injury attorneyIn recent months, residents of the Chicago suburbs have learned of a serious risk to the health of those who live and work in Willowbrook, Burr Ridge, and surrounding communities. A plant operated by Sterigenics International was found to be releasing dangerous amounts of ethylene oxide, a carcinogenic chemical, into the air, putting those who live and work in the area at risk of harm. Those who have been exposed to toxic substances should contact a personal injury attorney to determine their options for pursuing compensation for their injuries.

Testing Shows Continued Risk of Toxic Chemical Exposure

After the original report which raised the alarm of ethylene oxide exposure was released in August 2018, Sterigenics stated that in July 2018, they had put new measures in place in their plant to reduce ethylene oxide emissions. While this did not address the harm caused to people in the community during the decades the facility has been in operation, it was meant to ensure that the plant would not present a public safety risk going forward. However, recent tests have indicated that risks of toxic chemical exposure continue to exist near the facility.

In November 2018, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducted testing of the air near the Sterigenics plant, and these tests found that in certain locations, levels of ethylene oxide continue to exist in the atmosphere. Alarmingly, one test found that an average level of ethylene oxide detected during a 24-hour period was more than three times higher than the amount of the chemical which the original report stated was a cancer risk.

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Cook County toxic chemical exposure lawyer ethylene oxideRecently, people throughout the greater Chicago area were stunned by the revelation that residents of Willowbrook had been exposed to toxic chemical emissions for decades. A report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry stated that a plant operated by Sterigenics International had been releasing ethylene oxide into the surrounding community, potentially exposing tens of thousands of people to chemicals that can have serious health consequences.

Residents of Willowbrook and nearby suburbs such as Burr Ridge should be sure to understand the conditions that can result from ethylene oxide exposure. By working with a personal injury attorney, families may be able to pursue compensation that addresses the damages caused by this toxic substance.

Health Risks Caused by Ethylene Oxide

Ethylene Oxide (EtO) is used to sterilize medical equipment, food products, cosmetics, and drugs, and it can also be used as a pesticide. While workers at facilities such as the plant operated by Sterigenics use safety procedures to limit their exposure to EtO, when the chemical is released into the surrounding area, residents have no defense against breathing it in.

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Willowbrook ethylene oxide exposure attorneyIn the United States, we expect to be safe and free from harm as we go about our daily lives. While we may be aware of the risks we face in our daily activities and take steps to protect ourselves from personal injuries, there are times when we are put at risk due to the negligence of others without even being aware of the danger. This was illustrated recently when the news broke that residents of Willowbrook, Illinois have been exposed to toxic chemicals for years, putting them at increased risk of contracting cancer. 

Decades of Ethylene Oxide Emissions

In August 2018, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry released a report which raised the alarm that people in Willowbrook and nearby communities such as Burr Ridge have been exposed to ethylene oxide, a carcinogenic chemical. A plant operated by Sterigenics International, a company that sterilizes medical equipment, food products, and pharmaceutical drugs, was found to be emitting the toxic chemical, and the report concluded that people in the area have an elevated cancer risk and that the emissions constituted a public health hazard.

While Sterigenics took steps to reduce ethylene oxide emissions from their Willowbrook plant in July 2018, this does nothing to address the potential damages caused to Willowbrook residents by years of exposure. Around 20,000 people live in the area surrounding the plant, which has been operating since 1984, and there are four schools and one day care center within one mile of the facility.

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