After an EPA program produced a highly flawed assessment in 2016 that vastly overstated the risk of Ethylene Oxide (EtO), a critical gas used for sterilization of medical equipment, several states and localities closed medical sterilization plants. Those closures led the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to warn of likely shortages in medical supplies, which were realized after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A new report released by the Competitive Enterprise Institute today calls on state and local governments to ensure the medical sterilization plants, which are key to safely responding to the COVID-19 crisis, stay open into the future. “Deploy Rational Science-Based Policies for Medical Plant Sterilization” by CEI senior fellow Angela Logomasini also calls on the EPA to reverse the policies and end the IRIS program, which led the faulty assessment of EtO.
“It is extremely unfortunate that a highly flawed EPA risk assessment led to irrational policies that set back our preparedness for and response to the COVID-19 crisis,” said Logomasini. “Medical sterilization plants are more important than ever in this moment and states and localities should keep them open indefinitely. EPA should end the IRIS program, which has a history of faulty risk assessments, and allow the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics to handle such questions going forward.”
Recommendations to policymakers include:
- Rescind IRIS’s risk assessment for EtO and produce a more balanced reevaluation under scientific guidelines administered by the agency’s Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics.
- Shut down the IRIS program and focus its risk assessment functions inside the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics.
- Shut down the National Air Toxics Assessment, which has a history of spreading misinformation about air quality risks and promoting unbalanced and counterproductive policies.
- Preempt state efforts to shut down medical plant sterilization facilities that already meet agency emission standards.
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