Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn urged regulators Tuesday to temporarily close two facilities in Vernon that sterilize medical equipment until they come into compliance with air quality regulations.

Hahn sent a letter to the South Coast Air Quality Management District urging the agency to require the Sterigenics facilities in Vernon to immediately cease all ethylene oxide-emitting operations.

On May 5, 2022, the SCAQMD issued a notice regarding high levels of ethylene oxide “likely to affect public health and safety near the Sterigenics facilities.”

Ethlyene oxide is a known carcinogen and chronic long-term exposure can cause damage to the brain and nervous system. Sterigenics operates two facilities that use EtO to sterilize medical devices, according to the SCAQMD.

A representative for the company could not immediately be reached for comment.

“Testing shows ethylene oxide levels have been elevated since late April, but we don’t know how long these emissions have been elevated before testing started,” Hahn said.

“Maywood residents live just 500 feet away from this facility,” she said. “This is the same community that has already suffered the impacts of lead contamination from Exide, metal emissions from a magnesium chemical fire, and the cumulative impacts of living near freeways and other industrial facilities.

“I understand that the SCAQMD continues to investigate this important matter and is rolling out a more robust community air monitoring plan. However, we cannot risk the health and safety of our residents while these investigations are underway,” Hahn added.

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