Chemicals found in the air of two New Jersey towns are placing nearby residents at increased danger of developing cancer, the Environmental Protection Agency is warning.
Both towns have been found to have Ethylene Oxide, or EtO, a colorless, flammable gas, in their air. The chemical is usually used to make products like plastic bottles and antifreeze, as well as to sterilize medical equipment.
The two towns that have EtO in their air – Franklin Borough and Linden – both have industrial plants that use the gas to sterilize medical equipment. The EPA released a map showing that people around those plants have “risks of 100 in a million or greater from breathing air containing EtO emitted from the facility (or the same as 1 additional cancer case in 10,000 people).”
A lifetime cancer risk of 100 in a million means that, if 1 million people were exposed to this level of EtO in the air 24 hours a day for 70 years, 100 people would be expected to develop cancer from that exposure.