Vernon, CA – Today, Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn is renewing her call for the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) to temporarily shut down the Sterigenics facility in the City of Vernon. The medical equipment sterilization plant has been emitting elevated and dangerous levels of Ethelyne Oxide, a known human carcinogen, threatening the lives of workers and local residents. Tomorrow, Tuesday April 9, the SCAQMD will hold a hearing regarding Sterigenics’ emissions and determine next steps.
“For months now, the SCAQMD has had proof that Sterigenics is emitting dangerously elevated levels of Ethylene Oxide, poisoning their workers here in Vernon and putting at risk the health of residents just a few hundred feet away in Maywood,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn. “The SCAQMD needs to enforce their own rules and immediately shut this facility down until it comes into compliance. There can be no compromise when it comes to the health of our communities and protecting the air they breathe.”
Ethylene oxide is a toxic chemical used in the sterilization process. Short-term exposure can irritate the eyes, nose, throat and lungs. Long-term exposure can cause damage to the brain, nervous system and cancer. It has been linked to breast cancer and blood cancers.
The SCAQMD first identified elevated emissions from Sterigenics in April. Sterigenics continues to operate and emit elevated levels of ethylene oxide. Between April and July, ethylene oxide levels outside of the facility averaged 18.3 ppb. These emissions are 6X higher than the AQMD off-site worker standard.
Homes in the City of Maywood are only 500 feet away from the Sterigenics facility and the closest school is less than 1,000 feet away.