FloorWAUKEGAN – State Senator Terry Link (D-Indian Creek) applauded Medline Industries’ decision to temporarily close its Waukegan sterilization plant while working to decrease ethylene oxide emissions.

“It’s clear just how dangerous exposure to ethylene oxide can be,” Link said. “I’m glad to see that Medline is taking the health consequences of people who live near the plant seriously.”

The company announced Tuesday that it will temporarily halt sterilization operations at the Waukegan facility to install nearly $10 million worth of upgrades to comply with new state laws regulating ethylene oxide.

Last year, Link co-sponsored a law that set emission limits for non-sterilizations facilities that emit ethylene oxide and requires them to obtain permits from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. He also sponsored a law to prevent renewal of permits for facilities that violate state or federal standards for ethylene oxide emissions.

Both measures took effect in June.

“We need tight regulations on ethylene oxide to ensure that the public health is protected in communities that neighbor these plants,” Link said. “The laws we passed last spring are a good step forward, but we still have a lot of work to do on this issue.”

Last year, a study by the University of Illinois at Chicago found higher levels of ethylene oxide in the blood of people who live near plants that emit the chemical. Further studies by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the World Health Organization and the National Toxicology Program have all demonstrated a link between ethylene oxide and cancer.

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