Sterigenics, a medical device sterilization company in Los Angeles County Vernon, will not do business with Sterigenics until it addresses concerns from two state agencies about elevated levels of toxic gas near their facilities.
The County Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted a resolution on Tuesday, June 14 by supervisor Janice Hahn instructing all county departments to “refrain from entering into any new or revised contracts for the purchase of goods or services from Sterigenics.” approved. The company is currently being investigated by both the South Coast Air Quality Management District and Cal/OSHA.
“Sterigenics is emitting dangerous levels of a cancer-causing chemical and is putting workers’ lives at risk,” Hahn said. “I urge the SCAQMD to close this plant until they reduce these emissions, but we can apply our pressure. As long as they don’t pose a threat to workers and the community, this plant should be shut down. The company will not receive valuable Los Angeles County contracts.”
Sterigenics uses a carcinogenic gas called ethylene oxide to clean and disinfect medical equipment. The Vernon facilities handle more than 45 million medical devices each year, including surgical kits, catheters, and IV sets, and supplies those devices to nearly 100 health care manufacturers, including “dozens in the Los Angeles area, as well as local Hospital”. For a company spokesperson.
According to Han’s office, Sterigenics currently does not have an existing contract with Los Angeles County, but is a registered seller and has received contracts in the past.
“As the manager of county financial resources, it is the prerogative of this board to direct our county resources to be spent with companies that comply with applicable laws and regulations and protect the health of workers or community members.” Don’t put yourself at risk,” said Hahn’s motion.
Short-term exposure to ethylene oxide — which is also used at facilities in Ontario, Carson, Temecula and San Diego — can cause headache, nausea, vomiting and difficulty breathing. If a person is exposed to it for years, it increases the risk of cancer including lymphoid and breast cancer.
An unannounced inspection by AQMD in April found that ethylene oxide concentrations near Sterigenics’ 50th Street location in Vernon were so high that nearby workers could be at four times the cancer risk than the average in the area.
AQMD issued a notice of infringement against the company in May and then later in June designated the Vernon facilities as “potentially high risk.” Cal/OSHA began its investigation into worker safety about the same time.
A Sterigenics spokesperson previously said that the company is working with the two agencies and has completed remedial efforts addressing the initial violation.
Last year, after years of debate nationally, the EPA acknowledged that ethylene oxide poses a greater risk than previously thought and imposed new rules specifically on medical sterilization companies that use the gas. Of the 29 facilities identified by the EPA, five are in California, including the stereogenic facilities in Vernon and Ontario.