Medical supply sterilizer to close in Tennessee

Sterilization Services plans to close its flagship site in Memphis, Tenn., which sterilizes medical equipment, by April 30, 2024, according to the Southern Environmental Law Center.

The legal advocacy organization said the 45,000-square-foot processing and warehouse facility has been emitting toxic levels of ethylene oxide for more than four decades. Sterilization Services plans to open a new location outside Memphis after closing the site, according to the Southern Environmental Law Center.

High exposure to ethylene oxide, or EtO, has been associated with the risk of cancer, reproductive health issues and neurotoxicity. The Environmental Protection Agency has been cracking down on EtO emissions, and in August 2022, it listed 23 medical sterilizer facilities producing dangerous levels of EtO — including Sterilization Service's Memphis location.

The EPA proposed new emission standards in April, but the American Hospital Association pushed back because EtO is used to sterilize about half of all medical supplies in the U.S. The AHA requested an explanation for its proposed requirement that sterilization facilities reduce their EtO emissions to 10 parts per billion.

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