Salinas, Puerto Rico (Steri-Tech, Inc.)
Steri-Tech, Inc. is located at Carretera 701 Km 0.7 Salinas Industrial Park, Salinas, PR. The facility uses ethylene oxide (EtO) to sterilize medical equipment and materials.
EPA scientists and analysts recently completed a risk assessment to understand the impact of EtO emissions from the Steri-Tech, Inc. facility. As part of this risk assessment, we used the most recent available information about how much EtO the company emits into the air and we modeled estimated cancer risks to people living nearby. The risk assessment identified elevated cancer risk in the Salinas community. EPA is committed to working with state and local agencies, facilities, and communities to reduce this risk.
NOTE: The risk information on this map, from July 2022, is no longer current. EPA is archiving this map because it no longer portrays everything we know about risk. In a number of cases, commercial sterilizers have made improvements or changes to operations that have reduced risks to residents.
EPA has proposed two new actions to address emissions of ethylene oxide from commercial sterilizers and to reduce risks for people who live, work, or go to school near these facilities. Learn about these actions.
This map shows EPA’s estimates of lifetime cancer risks from EtO near Steri-Tech, Inc. in Salinas, PR. As you can see from the map risk decreases with distance from the facility.
The area in blue shows estimated lifetime cancer 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.
The area in dark blue on the map shows that EtO exposure could contribute to a maximum increased risk level of 60 cancer cases if 10,000 people were exposed for 70 years (or 6,000 in 1 million). EPA cannot predict whether an individual person will develop cancer.
View a larger version of the map and legend in a new browser tab.
For this risk assessment, we looked at excess cancer risk attributable to a single chemical, EtO. This estimated risk is in addition to the risk of developing cancer from other causes. This is a worst-case scenario that assumes a person stays in the highest risk area 24 hours a day continuously for 70 years. EPA takes this approach because we want to be protective of the most exposed and most vulnerable individuals from risk associated with EtO emissions from this facility.
- Read additional information on EtO, including information on our current understanding of risks from ethylene oxide.
Community and Facility Details
The Steri-Tech facility in Salinas, PR has been operating as a sterilizer since 1986 for several medical manufacturing companies in Puerto Rico. The facility is in the process of replacing their current EtO emissions control device (a thermal oxidizer) with a new control device (a catalytic recuperative oxidizer) which is already on-site. On July 26, 2022, the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER) issued a construction permit for the new catalytic oxidizer, which will help control EtO emissions from the facility sterilization chambers and aeration (degassing) rooms. The catalytic oxidizer is expected to improve the EtO emission reduction efficiency from 99% to 99.9%.
EPA in partnership with DNER and local partners hosted a community public meeting on August 30th for the Salinas community to learn more about EtO and risks from commercial sterilizers.
What EPA is Doing to Address Ethylene Oxide
Now: EPA is working with the Puerto Rico DNER and Steri-Tech to reduce EtO emissions. EPA has provided technical support to DNER as part of this work. DNER has been working with the facility to expedite the issuance of the necessary permits to allow the installation of the new control device. On June 29, 2021, EPA issued a Notice of Violation (NOV) citing violations of EtO emissions standards for sterilization facilities. EPA has been working with the facility to resolve the noncompliance issues cited in the NOV and to evaluate additional control devices that can further reduce the facility EtO emissions. This evaluation includes examining new developments in sterilization practices, processes and control technologies, considering cost and feasibility, as well as addressing any unregulated emission points.
Soon: Later this year, EPA will propose strengthening current regulations for Ethylene Oxide Commercial Sterilizers. EPA will consider risk as part of the proposed regulations.
- Learn more about regulation for EtO Sterilization Facilities.
- For more information about actions you can take.
Register to Get Community Updates
EPA worked with the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources and local partners to host a community public meeting on August 30, 2022 for the Salinas community to learn more about EtO and risks from commercial sterilizers.
- August 30 Community Presentation Spanish (pdf)
- Transcript of August 30 Community Meeting Spanish (pdf) English (pdf)
- January 2023 Community Meeting Presentation Spanish (pdf) (pdf) English (pdf) (pdf)
Captioning will be provided for this event. If you require special accommodations, including live translation into a language other than English or Spanish, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to make arrangements.