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Plant in Georgia Reports Eight-Day Leak of Ethylene Oxide in Smyrna, Georgia

October 09, 2019

SMYRNA, GA – According to an online article at, a medical supply sterilizing facility located east of Atlanta is now under scrutiny due to an eight-day leak of ethylene oxide, a carcinogenic substance.  The incident occurred late last month.*

The City of Covington released a report on the leak at the BD facility, indicating that it released about seven pounds of ethylene oxide per day, with a total of 54 pounds during the eight-day period.

According to state regulations, they do not require that sterilizing companies report leaks of less than ten pounds per day however, BD put the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) on notice as to the leak.  EPD indicates that the facility has had numerous releases of the chemical that have been unreported over the past five years. Each release was less than ten pounds, per the company.  

The leak was caused by a roof valve that had been improperly closed.  This occurred as the city was conducting air tests in the plant’s vicinity to ascertain the level of ethylene oxide emissions.  

Local politicians and leaders in the community are calling for the independent testing of the air located around the sterilizing facility amid concerns about the risks of cancer associated with ethylene oxide exposure.  

Back in 2016, the United States Environmental Protection Agency classified ethylene oxide as a carcinogenic substance. Per an employee of the Toxicology Excellence for Risk Assessment, which contracted with BD, he notes that the 54 pounds of ethylene oxide that was released over the eight-day period “is of no concern to me from a cancer point of view.”  

Nonetheless, an environmental engineer and consultant of the Southern Environmental Law Center indicates that the 54-pound leak “is a substantial amount because the compound is a carcinogen.”

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