Data from ethylene oxide air testing in Gurnee, Waukegan sent for analysis

  • Officials from the Lake County Health Department in Waukegan have submitted the final results from joint outdoor air monitoring for ethylene oxide to experts.

    Officials from the Lake County Health Department in Waukegan have submitted the final results from joint outdoor air monitoring for ethylene oxide to experts. Photo courtesy Hannah Goering, Lake County Health Department

 
 
Updated 8/15/2019 6:51 PM

The Lake County Health Department, village of Gurnee and city of Waukegan have sent the final results from their joint outdoor air monitoring for ethylene oxide to experts for them to draw conclusions from the data, county officials said Thursday.

The joint monitoring for the cancer-causing gas began the first week of June at 10 sites in Lake County, most of them near Vantage Specialty Chemicals in Gurnee and Medline Industries in Waukegan. Samples were collected until the first week of July.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

All of that collected data, as well as testing data provided by Vantage and Medline, has been sent to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for a health risk assessment.

The data from the joint testing process was made available to the public soon after it was collected. Gurnee Mayor Kristina Kovarik said she was among those tracking the data as it was uploaded to the internet. Kovarik said environmental engineers and experts who have consulted with the village have all said no conclusions can be drawn from the data at this time.

"It's a serious topic but you can't draw conclusions yet," Kovarik said. "I'm very pragmatic, I want to make sure I have all the information and conclusions before going forward on making good decisions."

Kovarik said local officials have requested the health risk assessment be expedited, but the process might take months.

Tea Tanaka, a member of the group Stop ETO in Lake County, which has long been critical of the steps taken by local officials, said she felt there is nothing preventing local governments from acting on the data that has been collected.

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"Those studies will take months to come back, if they ever come back," Tanaka said. "They are using the method of stalling to let the movement die out."

Tanaka also criticized the joint outdoor monitoring program for not collecting enough data.

In June, state lawmakers passed new laws regulating ETO emissions which require companies such as Medline and Vantage to include greater monitoring and emissions controls. The state EPA has agreed to fund additional air monitoring after facility upgrades at Medline and Vantage are completed.

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