It’s not over just yet.
Eclipsed for the past year by COVID-19, medtech’s long-simmering ethylene oxide (EO) controversy could soon flare up (again) as the industry grapples with alternative sterilization methods for its products.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is expected to issue a final federal rule this year limiting EO emissions from commercial medtech sterilization plants. Considered a carcinogen, EO has been used for decades to clean medical equipment—from plastic tubing and surgical instruments to hospital gowns and artificial joints. Industry experts estimate the chemical is used to sterilize roughly half of all medical equipment, as it can efficiently kill germs without harming materials.