Ethylene Oxide, or ETO, is a type one carcinogen, proven to cause cancer and cause other health problems. It is also a mutagen meaning that it changes genetic material. Exposure to ETO has been found to cause increased aggressive rates of Breast Cancer, Leukemia, Lymphoma, Stomach Cancer, Miscarriage and more. ETO is especially harmful to children and teens as our bodies are still developing. The chemical is used to sterilize medical equipment by attacking and damaging the DNA of all living life forms on the equipment, therefore killing them. Unfortunately, ETO also damages DNA in humans, which is why the EPA labeled them a class one carcinogen.
Although the chemical industry claims its use is necessary, there are safer alternatives to using ETO. These include:
1) Peracetic acid
2) Radiation (gamma and electron beam)
3) Vapor-Phase Hydrogen Peroxide
4) Plasma (hydrogen peroxide)
5) Hydrogen peroxide and ozone
6) Nitrogen Dioxide.
Recognizing the dangers posed by Ethylene Oxide, many hospitals have stopped using ETO in favor of safer alternatives.