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How Does Ethylene Oxide Exposure Affect People’s Health? 

 Posted on October 12, 2022 in Toxic Exposure

Allegheny County Toxic Chemical Exposure Lawyers

Ethylene oxide is a colorless gas that is used in a variety of industrial processes. It is most commonly used to sterilize medical equipment and other items, although it may have other purposes as well. Unfortunately, exposure to ethylene oxide can result in serious health effects. This is a significant concern to workers in facilities that use toxic chemicals, but due to the release of ethylene oxide into the atmosphere, people in the surrounding communities may be affected as well. This has become a major health issue in many communities throughout the United States, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has specifically noted that people living near facilities in Zelienople and Erie, Pennsylvania may be at risk. 

The Dangers of Ethylene Oxide Exposure

Ethylene oxide is classified as a human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). This means that exposure to ethylene oxide can increase the risk of developing cancer, including breast cancer, lung cancer, brain cancer, stomach cancer, lymphoma, and leukemia.

Exposure to ethylene oxide can also cause other health problems, such as respiratory irritation and the development of lung diseases such as bronchitis. It can also cause damage to the liver and kidneys, skin irritation and rashes, and nerve damage that may lead to muscle weakness, poor bodily coordination, and tingling, as well as headaches, memory loss, and dizziness. It has been associated with various reproductive issues, including infertility and birth defects. 

Acute exposure to ethylene oxide, which may occur due to accidents in the workplace, can be especially serious, and it may cause severe irritation of the eyes and skin, lung injuries involving fluid buildup and tissue damage, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and seizures. Low levels of ongoing exposure affecting workers in facilities using ethylene oxide or people in the surrounding communities can lead to chronic issues that can drastically affect a person's long-term health.

Compensation for Ethylene Oxide Injuries

As the dangers of ethylene oxide have become more well-known, people who have suffered injuries after being exposed to this chemical may have options for addressing the harm caused to them and their families. Workers who have experienced health issues related to this chemical will usually be able to receive workers' compensation benefits, and they may be able to take legal action against the parties responsible for causing them harm, such as the manufacturer of equipment that did not provide them with the proper protection. 

People who have been exposed to ethylene oxide in the environment may be able to pursue compensation from a company that operated a facility that allowed this substance to be released into the atmosphere. Recently, a woman in Illinois won a verdict against Sterigenics, a company that operated a sterilization facility in the suburbs of Chicago. She contracted breast cancer as a result of being exposed to ethylene oxide over several years. A jury awarded her $363 million.

Contact Our Allegheny County Toxic Chemical Exposure Lawyers

Exposure to ethylene oxide can lead to multiple types of serious health effects, including cancer and lung disease. If you believe you have been exposed to ethylene oxide, it is important to seek medical attention to ensure that you receive the proper treatment and have an understanding of the causes of your health issues. At Colianni & Leonard LLC, our Pittsburgh toxic chemical injury attorneys can help you determine who was responsible for your injuries, and we will work with you to pursue compensation for all of the damages you and your family have suffered. Call us at 412-680-7877 to set up a free consultation today.


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