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EPA: 2 NJ towns make list of towns with high risk of cancer from toxic gas

Two New Jersey towns have made it onto a list for towns with a high risk of cancer due to toxic gas.

News 12 Staff

Aug 11, 2022, 10:20 AM

Updated 679 days ago

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Two New Jersey towns have made it onto a list for towns with a high risk of cancer due to toxic gas.
Franklin Borough in Sussex County and Linden in Union County made the list of 23 locations. The toxic gas comes from a chemical used to sterilize medical equipment that is also sometimes used the pasteurize spices.
The Environmental Protection Agency warns that ETO-Sterilization Inc. on Brunswick Avenue in Linden is currently emitting enough of this gas to cause long-term health impacts, including cancer, under extreme exposure.
“Linden has always been a town that there are a number of toxins in the air,” says Mayor Derek Armstead. “We have recently been addressing it.”
The EPA sent Armstead a letter last week as part of an outreach program to inform and educate the 23 communities about ethylene oxide or EtO.
“We are working with the EPA. [Residents] don’t need to panic. If there is any cause for concern, this office would let them know,” the mayor says.
Armstead points to the report, which states there are not short-term health risks coming from the facility. He calls the estimated risk a worst-case scenario assuming “a person stays in the highest risk area for 24 hours a day continuously for 70 years.”
But the report does concern some people.
“I’ve developed asthma in my 50s because of the pollutants in the air,” says Mickey Kane.
Kane works in Linden and says he knows firsthand how important it is to reduce all toxic emissions. He says he appreciates the transparency, information and the warnings that the EPA says are issued to protect the most exposed and the most vulnerable.
“I think it’s important we know what’s in our water, in our air,” Kane says.
The toxins in Franklin Borough are coming from Cosmed Group Inc., which is located on Park Drive. Cosmed Group also owns the plant in Linden.
The EPA is working with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the factories and the towns to address the risks and reduce the emissions.
Officials will also host community meetings in both Linden and Franklin Borough. The dates have not been determined just yet, but officials say they are expected to be scheduled in September.
In response to the EPA’s report, Cosmed Group Inc. issued the following statement:
“EPA recently released information about ethylene oxide sterilization facilities across the U.S., including Cosmed Group’s processing facilities in New Jersey. We understand EPA stated that emissions of ethylene oxide from Cosmed’s facilities may pose a long-term health risk to the community.
We believe EPA's risk analyses are flawed and are based on inaccurate information and erroneous assumptions. As a result, we believe EPA has overstated any risks associated with these facilities.
Cosmed has been using ethylene oxide safely for over 30 years to sterilize medical devices and pasteurize spices. Cosmed operates in compliance with all state and federal laws, and any ethylene oxide emissions are fully permitted by the states in which we operate. EPA has not said—nor could it—that Cosmed is operating in violation of any legal standard.
The ethylene oxide Cosmed uses in its processes effectively reduces bacterial contamination of medical devices and spices. Medical devices must be sterilized prior to use to reduce the potential for infections, and spices must be pasteurized to eliminate pathogen contamination.
The sterilization services Cosmed provides keep people safe. Cosmed and others in the medical device and spice industries actively explore alternative sterilization methods, but none have demonstrated the broad applicability and effectiveness ethylene oxide provides.
Cosmed serves an important role in the supply chains of the industries we serve, ensuring that products people need are safely sterilized. Cosmed is dedicated to protecting the health and safety of its employees and the communities in which we operate.”
For more information out of Linden, click HERE.
For more information out of Franklin Borough, click HERE.


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