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Posted on: August 27, 2019

Ethylene Oxide in Lake County, Illinois

A second round of outdoor air monitoring for ethylene oxide (EtO) began the week of October 21, 2019 near Vantage Specialty Chemicals in Gurnee and Medline Industries in Waukegan. In partnership with the Lake County Health Department and Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA), the Village of Gurnee and City of Waukegan have contracted GHD Services, Inc. to conduct an additional 90-day period of air monitoring to determine levels of ethylene oxide (EtO) in the air. 

Samples will be collected from 12 monitoring sites every third day during the 90-day period, slated to end in January 2020. The monitoring canisters pose no health risks to residents and should not be damaged, moved, or interfered with. The canisters will be sent to a laboratory for analysis, and results will be posted publicly to this website as they are received.

View the press release for more details.

Background information

On November 2, 2018, the Lake County Health Department learned of concerns surrounding ethylene oxide emissions from Medline Industries in Waukegan and Vantage Specialty Chemicals in Gurnee. 

The Health Department immediately initiated communication with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) to better understand the situation and express the public’s desire for appropriate air monitoring and timely and transparent communication. The Health Department has maintained regular communication with these agencies, which have sole jurisdiction for regulating emissions.

The Village of Gurnee, City of Waukegan, and Lake County signed an intergovernmental agreement to conduct ethylene oxide (EtO) ambient air sampling near Vantage Specialty Chemicals in Gurnee and Medline Industries in Waukegan. The costs for testing were shared between the three entities (33.33% per entity). The Health Department managed the project.

In partnership with the Health Department, the Village of Gurnee and City of Waukegan hired GHD Services, Inc to conduct one month of air monitoring. Monitoring began the week of June 3, 2019 and concluded the first week of July 2019. Samples were collected from 10 sites every third day for one month, and additional samples were collected on random dates. Locations of the sites were selected based on U.S. EPA recommendations.

The Health Department forwarded air monitoring results from its joint program, along with the Medline and Vantage results, to the ATSDR and U.S. EPA with the request for an expedited health risk assessment. Results have also been sent to the IEPA who has regulatory authority over ethylene oxide emissions. Once the health risk assessment is complete, the Health Department has asked that the ATSDR, U.S. EPA, and IEPA send representatives to host a public forum and explain the results to our residents.

The Health Department will continue to use all available resources to protect the health of Lake County residents and will continue to share information as it becomes available.

Contact information:

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Region 5 Hotline:
312-353-2000
Toll-free:
800-621-8431
r5hotline@epa.gov
U.S. EPA Website

Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA)

Brad Frost:
217-782-7027
frost@illinois.gov
IEPA Website 

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR)

Michelle College:
312-886-1462
mna9@cdc.gov
ATSDR Website 

Lake County Health Department Environmental Health

847-377-8020

Additional information:

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