The Medical Association in America has issued a challenge to doctors and hospitals to seek safer medical devices. In the meantime, hospitals are encouraged to use alternative sterilization methods and reduce their dependence on toxic gases. In the United States, the FDA has issued several challenges for innovation to reduce its use of toxic gas. While hospitals are encouraged to use safe alternatives, it is important to keep in mind the benefits associated with ETO. In fact, more than 50 percent of all medical devices in the United States are sterilized with ETO, and the EPA estimates that ETO is used to sterilize 20 billion devices annually.
Ethylene Oxide Sterilizer is a Safe Method of Sterilization
EO is a proven, safe method of sterilization, and it comes without any risks. The gas used in ethylene oxide (EO) sterilization is not a carcinogen. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends using ethylene oxide but also, urges hospitals to find other environmentally friendly alternatives. The environmental risks of ETO are not considered high enough to pose a threat to communities near sterilization facilities.
Ethylene Oxide is a Versatile Compound
The Ethylene Oxide supporters promote responsible stewardship and safety technology to protect health and the environment. Members of the panel commit to complying with U.S. regulations, and regularly revise their safety practices to ensure that they are adhering to the highest standards. And that progress is not stopping, and the chemical industry continues to strive to minimize emissions.
Ethylene Oxide is a Flammable Gas with a Sweet Smell
The flammable gas is used in hospitals as a fumigant, disinfectant, and sterilizing agent. It is also used to make antifreeze and disinfect products. At high concentrations, it has a sweet odour. However, it has no effects until the body has been exposed to it many times. Therefore, hospitals should take all precautions possible to limit ethylene oxide exposure. It is not a carcinogen, and it is naturally found in ambient air.
The Bottom Line
According to the US Food and Drug Administration, about half of sterile medical devices in the US are sterilized using ethylene oxide. This includes general healthcare equipment and specialised medical devices like stents. This sterilising method is the only method available in some hospitals, so the use of this process is important for the prevention of infections. However, despite the potential health risks, the use of ethylene oxide sterilisation is not harmful.