The Decline of Ethylene Oxide Sterilization

A ban on ethylene oxide sterilization may be in the works; however, many healthcare facilities have already begun to eliminate ethylene oxide in their sterilization cycles. The transition from relying on EO sterilization to finding alternative sterilization methods and devices has put SPD technicians in some tricky situations.

Many of times, Central Sterile professionals are left scrambling to complete a pack for the operating room—an even harder feat since the decline of EO sterilization. Since some medical devices can only be sterilized by ethylene oxide, healthcare professionals have had to find alternative devices in order to complete a pack for the OR. Additionally, many professionals have begun investigating other sterilization methods; such as gamma radiation or hydrogen peroxide to implement into their department.

The potential ban originated from a study conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency, which investigated emissions from ethylene oxide. From their investigation, the EPA claimed there was a correlation between an increased risk of cancer with exposure of EO emissions.

The investigation created enough spark Legislators on both sides of the political spectrum have been working together to compose a bill for the ban, which they hope to implement as early as January 1st, 2021.  How would this ban effect your Central Sterile department?