Recent research studies have produced a clearer picture of the link between exposure to air polluted with ethylene oxide (EtO) and numerous forms of cancer. The research findings are bad news for people living and working near 23 commercial sterilizer plants nationwide where communities have developed higher-than-average lifetime likelihoods of cancer—including the Sterilization Services of Virginia facility in Henrico, VA.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) included this commercial sterilization plant among the facilities that, in 2022, emitted high enough levels of EtO into the air to contribute to an increased lifetime cancer risk in the surrounding community.
For cancer patients in Henrico, Virginia, ethylene oxide lawsuits offer a path to financial compensation that can support the best possible prognosis and keep your family afloat financially. The toxic exposure attorneys at Console & Associates, P.C. are standing by to review your case and help you understand your legal rights at no cost. Just call (866) 778-5500 today or complete our online form for a free consultation.
Is Henrico, VA, safe from toxic exposure to cancer-causing ethylene oxide? Unfortunately, the EPA determined in 2022 that elevated cancer risks exceeding 100 cancer cases in one million exist in the area surrounding the Sterilization Services of Virginia facility at 5674 Eastport Boulevard.
In August 2022, ABC 8News – WRIC reported that “those who live within 2-3 miles of the facility” are the ones particularly at risk of “potential long-term impacts of prolonged exposure to the chemicals.” This area includes local businesses, residential neighborhoods, and the George F. Baker Elementary School at 6651 Willson Rd. in Richmond, VA.
One measure the Sterilization Services of Virginia commercial sterilizer in Henrico is taking is the installation of a new wet scrubber intended to work with the facility’s existing equipment to better control emissions of ethylene oxide, the EPA reported.
EtO, or ethylene oxide, is a chemical that consists of hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon molecules.
Small amounts of EtO are naturally occurring and even, the EPA reported, found inside the body. Long-term exposure to higher levels of this gas through inhalation of polluted air can pose serious health risks. People in communities exposed to ethylene oxide may not even realize they’re breathing in colorless and often odorless EtO gas.
The list of uses for ethylene oxide is so extensive that, in 2017, the trade association American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers called ethylene the “World’s Most Important Chemical.”
Companies use EtO in the manufacturing of adhesives, antifreeze, detergents, plastics, and textiles, the EPA reported.
Ethylene oxide is used in sterilization, too. In fact, around 50% of sterile medical devices—20 billion medical devices each year—are sterilized using ethylene oxide. For many of these medical devices, the EPA reported, “EtO is the only safe and effective sterilization method currently available.” Ethylene oxide sterilization methods are also used for other products, including foods and spices.
The Sterilization Services of Virginia facility in Henrico uses ethylene oxide to sterilize medical products.
We are here to help.
The EPA considers the inhalation of ethylene oxide “carcinogenic to humans.”
Long-term exposure to EtO, defined as breathing in the gas at unsafe levels “24 hours a day for 70 years,” is associated with a higher-than-average lifetime cancer risk that exceeds 100 cases of cancer in a population of one million.
The evidence linking ethylene oxide and cancer is particularly strong for certain types of cancer. Specifically, the EPA lists an increase in the risk of the following types of cancers as a result of “regular” EtO exposure:
Find out more about ethylene oxide and cancer diagnoses.
What does ethylene oxide do to the body? EtO can affect the human body in much the same way as it sterilizes medical devices: by damaging DNA, according to the National Cancer Institute.
EtO is a mutagenic chemical. Just as the ethylene oxide sterilization process kills microbes by damaging their DNA, long-term exposure to ethylene oxide gas can also damage or mutate DNA in the human body, which, the National Cancer Institute explained, “accounts for its cancer-causing activity.”
Just inhaling EtO in polluted air over time may be sufficient to cause an elevated cancer risk.
Is ethylene oxide toxic? Yes—and recent research has revealed that the chemical is more dangerous than previously believed. Following a 2016 review, the EPA concluded that exposure to ethylene oxide was “60 times more toxic than the previous estimate,” The Washington Post reported in April 2023.
How much exposure to ethylene oxide is dangerous? To contribute to an increased lifetime cancer risk over time, the level of EtO in the air doesn’t need to be enough to cause any acute ethylene oxide side effects. That’s why people who live and work near the ethylene oxide sterilization facility in Henrico, Virginia, may not realize the air they have been breathing in is full of ethylene oxide carcinogen until after they are diagnosed with cancer.
Know your legal options.
The EPA has already established that ethylene oxide causes cancer and that certain ethylene oxide sterilization facilities have given rise to cancer hotspots where the lifetime cancer risk is higher than average. Members of these communities who have been diagnosed with cancer may have a lot of questions—and even more worries.
Is the Sterilization Services of Virginia facility to blame for the cancer you developed? How will you afford the expense of a cancer battle, and how will you provide for your family while you’re too sick to work? Pursuing EtO lawsuit claims is a way for cancer patients in the Henrico, VA, community and their families to not only get answers but also get the financial compensation they deserve.
The Henrico community members currently moving forward with Sterilization Services of Virginia EtO lawsuits meet two criteria:
Generally, the increase in lifetime cancer risk from breathing in ethylene oxide is greater when the exposure continues for a longer time and the level of EtO in the air is higher. Many plaintiffs pursuing EtO cancer lawsuits have either lived within a few miles of an ethylene oxide gas sterilizer for years or spent years working for a facility that uses ethylene oxide for sterilization.
In a toxic exposure lawsuit, including ETO cancer claims, you can seek compensation for harms and losses such as the following.
A settlement or jury award in an EtO lawsuit will cover the medical costs of diagnosing, staging, treating, and recovering from cancer. This includes medications, imaging tests, surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation, immunotherapy, other therapies and treatments, hospitalizations, outpatient oncologist visits, and rehabilitation services.
A cancer battle may make you too sick to work, but you still need money to pay your bills. Our EtO lawsuit attorneys will pursue full compensation for the income you missed out on while you were out of work. If your medical condition leaves you permanently disabled or limited in some way, we will also seek compensation for any decrease in future earning capacity you may be facing.
Cancer can cause a great deal of both physical and emotional pain. You deserve compensation for non-economic damages like pain and suffering and the decline in your quality of life.
The family of a cancer patient who has passed away may have the grounds to pursue a wrongful death claim against an ethylene oxide gas sterilizer. Some of the damages a wrongful death claim settlement may cover include medical expenses, funeral costs, lost wages, and the loss of the support and companionship the deceased person provided.
Experienced EtO attorneys can help you identify all of the damages involved in your claim and calculate the value of your case.
To stand up to a company like Sterilization Services of Virginia and get the most money for your claim, you’re going to want the help of an experienced ethylene oxide lawsuit attorney.
How much does it cost to sue a company for toxic exposure to cancer-causing ethylene oxide? At Console & Associates, P.C., we offer free consultations and provide all our clients with no-win, no-fee legal representation. Because you pay nothing unless and until we succeed in getting you compensation, you can focus on your health and your family. We’ll handle everything else involved in your claim.