EPA plans community outreach to address air quality concerns in South Memphis

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A sterilization plant on Florida Street in South Memphis could be emitting hazardous fumes into the air, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

READ MORE: EPA concerned about air quality around South Memphis business

The EPA is warning residents who live near medical sterilizing plants in 13 states and Puerto Rico about potential health risks from emissions of ethylene oxide (EtO), a chemical widely used in their operations.

The Sterilization Services of Tennessee facility is on the list.

Ethylene oxide is used to clean everything from catheters to syringes, pacemakers and plastic surgical gowns.

READ MORE: EPA: Chemical in medical-device cleanser poses cancer risk

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says short contact with ethylene oxide may result in respiratory irritation and lung injury, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, shortness of breath, and cyanosis. OSHA says chronic exposure has been associated with cancer, reproductive effects, mutagenic changes, neurotoxicity, and sensitization.

The EPA will conduct a national public webinar on Wednesday, August 10, from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. to focus on the national scope of the risks.

CLICK HERE to register.

For more information about EtO and Sterilization Services of Tennessee, CLICK HERE.

The EPA is also hosting a community meeting in Memphis on September 8.

CLICK HERE to register to attend that meeting.