WASHINGTON (April 6, 2023) — Today, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) issued the following statement in response to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) announcement of new proposed air regulations for the chemical sector:
ACC and our members are committed to being good neighbors and helping safeguard communities and the environment. The cities and towns where we operate include our families, friends, and employees.
“We recognize the concerns that communities have about their local environment and support increased access to accurate, up-to-date and scientifically robust air monitoring data. We demonstrated this commitment by substantially enhancing community air monitoring in Harris County, Texas through collaboration across government, industry, and local communities.
“Since the 1980s, total toxic releases and air emissions of criteria pollutants in the U.S. have fallen sharply, even as population and GDP have grown. From 2010 to 2020, Responsible Care facilities within the ACC membership have reduced HAPs emissions by approximately 24 percent. According to EPA Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) chemicals to air have declined notably over the last 10 years, driving the decrease in total releases.
“We will be reviewing the proposals put forward by EPA before commenting in detail. However, we are particularly concerned with the EPA’s proposals regarding ethylene oxide. Ethylene oxide is a versatile compound that’s used to help make countless everyday products. Ethylene oxide plays an important role in the development of batteries for electric vehicles and is used to support agriculture as well as the oil and gas industry. Another important use of ethylene oxide is the sterilization of medical equipment. It is estimated that ethylene oxide sterilizes 20 billion medical devices each year, helping to prevent disease and infection. In fact, according to FDA, ‘For many medical devices, sterilization with ethylene oxide may be the only method that effectively sterilizes and does not damage the device during the sterilization process.’
“We oppose any rulemaking that uses the EPA’s flawed IRIS value for Ethylene Oxide. ACC and others have detailed the severe science-based flaws with the IRIS value that resulted in an overly conservative value that is below background levels of ethylene oxide. In fact, the IRIS program’s proposed toxicity value is 19,000 times lower than naturally occurring levels of ethylene oxide found in the human body. Overly conservative regulations on ethylene oxide could threaten access to products ranging from electric vehicle batteries to sterilized medical equipment.
“We support strong, science-based regulations for our industry. But we are concerned that EPA may be rushing its work on significant rulemaking packages that reach across multiple source categories and could set important precedents. We will be engaging closely throughout the comment and review process.”
“We look forward to working with EPA and other stakeholders to advance science-based air monitoring initiatives, helping to ensure that our world is safe and sustainable for generations to come.”