Dr. Susan Buchanan, clinical associate professor of environmental and occupational health sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) School of Public Health, led a community meeting on January 12 at the Warren Newport Public Library in Gurnee, Illinois, to present the results of recent bloodwork of Lake County residents testing for exposure to ethylene oxide.
The non-randomized study examined ethylene oxide hemoglobin adduct levels in blood of people living near Medline Industries Inc., a manufacturer of medical equipment using ethylene oxide to sterilize surgical supplies and Vantage, Inc., a chemical production plant. The convenience sample indicated residents living closer to the Medline facility had higher blood levels of the carcinogen than those living further away. Testing took place in August, led by faculty and students at the School of Public Health.
“Studies used to determine the carcinogenicity of ethylene oxide are mostly with workers who have had much higher exposure levels,” Dr. Buchanan said. “It’s impossible to correlate an individual’s cancer threat with their blood levels of ethylene oxide, but people want to know exactly what these levels mean.”