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INFORMATION UPDATE ON ETHYLENE OXIDE (EtO)

To: Whom it may concern
From: EOSA, The Ethylene Oxide Sterilization Association
Re: INFORMATION UPDATE ON ETHYLENE OXIDE (EtO)
Date: 10 January 2005


EOSA is an industry trade group of suppliers and users of
EtO as a sterilant. This memo is intended to eliminate
confusion regarding commercially-motivated “rumors” to the
effect that EtO is being or will be banned. These rumors
are simply untrue. The sterilant, ethylene oxide, is NOT
being banned; it is here to stay.
EtO (or EO, if you please) is not, has not and will not be
banned or phased out. No American federal, state nor other
judicial, legislative or regulatory body is even
entertaining such a prospect.
The “issue” does not involve EtO. The only likely link to
EtO is the scheduled phase-out of CFC and HCFCs which have
been used as propellants in 12/88 EtO/CFC and/or 10/90
EtO/HCFC blends or mixtures used in some sterilization
systems.
THE CURRENT EtO FACTS ARE:
- the production of CFCs was banned in the U.S. as of
January 1, 1996. Certain hydroflourocarbons (HCFCs) are
scheduled to be restricted in the future in compliance with
the Montreal Protocol. All of this is unrelated to EtO
usage as a sterilant.
- EtO is the number one sterilant. The market for EtO used
for sterilization is strong and continues to grow at 1.5 -
3% per year. Sources: ARC Specialty Products and
Honeywell.*/
- in calendar year 2000, US hospitals used EtO to sterilize
over 75% of their devices needing low temperature gas
processing. Source: Honeywell.
- more than 1,200 hospitals currently use the EtO/HCFC
mixture for sterilization purposes. Source: Honeywell.
- in the U.S. the medical sterilant industry (hospitals,
medical device manufacturers and contract sterilizers) used
10 million pounds of EtO in 2000 to sterilize more than
half of all single use items produced/used (the same ones
that hospitals and consumers buy!) – 52% of everything
sterilized, in fact. Source: ARC Specialty Products.
- and, the other 8+ billion pounds of EtO produced and
utilized in this country each year are used to make
antifreeze, fibers, detergents, surfactants and numerous
other consumer and industrial products. Source: Union
Carbide/Dow**/
*/ ARC Specialty Products, a division of Balchem
Corporation, is the number one supplier of 100% EtO to the
medical device and contract sterilizer industries.
Honeywell International, Inc. is the number one supplier of
EtO blend.
**/ Union Carbide, a division of Dow Chemical, one of the
world’s largest manufacturers of EtO. Other domestic
producers include: BASF, Dow itself and Sun.


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