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EPA in Illinois

Addressing Ethylene Oxide Emissions in Lake County, Illinois

U.S. EPA is working with Illinois EPA to better understand emissions of ethylene oxide from two facilities in Lake County, Illinois.

U.S. EPA’s latest National Air Toxics Assessment (NATA), identified four census tracts in Lake County as having potential cancer risks of 100 in 1 million or greater from exposure to a group of air pollutants known as “air toxics.” The majority of that risk was estimated to be from the pollutant ethylene oxide. Because NATA does not identify risks from specific facilities, EPA began investigating further.

The NATA risk estimates were modeled using emissions information from the 2014 National Emissions Inventory, which included ethylene oxide emissions from Medline Industries in Waukegan. After NATA was released, U.S. EPA learned that ethylene oxide emissions from another facility, Vantage Specialty Chemicals, had been erroneously reported as zero to the National Emissions Inventory.

U.S. EPA has been working with Illinois EPA to examine emissions information from both the Vantage and Medline facilities to determine potential next steps. Here is what we know as of November 21, 2018:

Medline Industries

  • Medline Industries has reported that it is working with contractors to voluntarily install additional control technology to reduce ethylene oxide emissions from the back vents at the facility. Estimated installation is in the first quarter of 2019.

Vantage Specialties

  • Vantage Specialties’ ethylene oxide emissions were not included in the latest NATA due to the error in the National Emissions Inventory.  
  • U.S. EPA has been reviewing updated emissions information from the company. This information includes revised emissions estimates reported to the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) and the methodology for calculating those, along with information from a 2017 stack test the company conducted with Illinois EPA approval.
  • Vantage has reported that it is working with contractors to voluntarily add a secondary control to its existing scrubber. Estimated installation of the additional control equipment is the first quarter of 2019.  Vantage has indicated that it will conduct monitoring at the facility’s fenceline after the additional control equipment is installed.