Testing for cancer-causing agent to begin June 1 in Gurnee, Waukegan
Testing for cancer-causing ethylene oxide in the air surrounding manufacturing facilities in Gurnee and Waukegan is expected to begin June 1, Lake County health officials announced Monday.
The air monitoring will take place near Vantage Specialty Chemicals in Gurnee and Medline Industries in Waukegan, following calls for action from residents and political leaders in both communities.
State health officials also will be asked to conduct a cancer incidence assessment similar to a report released March 29 in Willowbrook, according to the Lake County Health Department.
Based on recommendations from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the plan calls for one vendor to be hired to collect air samples from four sites near Vantage and four sites near Medline, according to the health department. Samples also would be collected from two remote sites to provide background levels of ethylene oxide, which has been classified by the U.S. EPA as a human carcinogen.
According the Lake County health officials, samples will be collected every third day for one month. The number and placement of sampling sites, as well as the frequency and duration of sampling, will follow U.S. EPA protocol so the results can be use for health risk assessments.
On March 26, Lake County Health Department Executive Director Mark Pfister petitioned the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry to conduct a health risk assessment based on the air sampling results.
Contracts for the air monitoring are expected to be considered in early May by Gurnee's village board and Waukegan's city council. The Lake County Health Department will manage the project.
The Lake County Health Department, state legislators and local officials have been concerned with potentially harmful emissions from the two manufacturing facilities and have been pushing state and federal agencies to conduct testing. But with no indication that would happen, the local entities decided to hire an independent firm to do the work.
On Saturday, about 100 people gathered for a rally at Grand Avenue and Hunt Club Road in Gurnee to raise awareness about ethylene oxide. The rally organized by StopEtO in Lake County included state Reps. Joyce Mason of Gurnee and Dan Didech of Buffalo Grove.
"We just deserve the answers," said Mason.
Didech added: "What you're doing is working. We hear you and we are standing with you in Springfield."