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Monday, April 15, 2024
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Protecting Laredo Residents from Ethylene Oxide Gas Emissions

Ethylene oxide is a colorless gas used to make products including antifreeze, plastics, detergents, and adhesives, and to sterilize medical equipment.

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U.S. Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28) joined 39 members of Congress in sending a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in support of the agency’s April 2023 proposed rule to reduce ethylene oxide emissions from commercial sterilization facilities. Image for illustration purposes
U.S. Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28) joined 39 members of Congress in sending a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in support of the agency’s April 2023 proposed rule to reduce ethylene oxide emissions from commercial sterilization facilities. Image for illustration purposes

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WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28) joined 39 members of Congress in sending a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in support of the agency’s April 2023 proposed rule to reduce ethylene oxide emissions from commercial sterilization facilities. 

Ethylene oxide is a colorless gas used to make products including antifreeze, plastics, detergents, and adhesives, and to sterilize medical equipment. According to the EPA, ethylene oxide use can contribute to increased cancer risk. The EPA’s proposed rule, if implemented, will reduce ethylene oxide emissions from commercial sterilizers by 80 percent. 

“While I recognize the important role commercial sterilizers play in the healthcare industry, the health and safety of Laredoans has always been my priority,” said Congressman Cuellar. “I am committed to bringing well-paying jobs to South Texas, but we need a balanced approach and common-sense regulations that protect our health. I support the EPA’s proposed rule, which will greatly reduce the exposure of our community to ethylene oxide.”

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The letter signed by Congressman Cuellar expresses support for the proposed rule and the agency’s focus on public health. The letter also urges the EPA to adopt a shorter compliance period than the 18 months listed in the proposed rule to prioritize the health of nearby communities.

The EPA visited Laredo in September 2022 to gather community feedback and discuss the risk to communities located near commercial sterilizers. For more information on ethylene oxide in Laredo, click here.

To view a copy of Congressman Cuellar’s letter, click here.

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