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Northern Illinois University Law Review


This article strives to provide an overview of the environmental health crisis surrounding medical sterilization facilities and examine the variety or “patchwork” of legal solutions involved. Part II of the article will discuss the dangers of ethylene oxide (EtO), how it is used for sterilization of medical equipment, and the health impacts that occur when emissions of the chemical are released into communities. Part III will explain how ethylene oxide is regulated, as well as the framework of federal, state, and local regulations. Part IV will demonstrate what happens when these mechanisms fail by discussing a recent environmental health crisis in Illinois. Part V will turn to the legal remedies for environmental pollution. It will discuss legislative action or the lack thereof, by individual states. It will also analyze issues involving federal agencies and their response to these issues. Further, it will address the problems that may occur given theses agencies’ lack of consensus on how to address ethylene oxide and medical sterilization, demonstrated by the patchwork of legal remedies available through various levels of government.

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Northern Illinois University Law Review

Suggested Citation

Staci L. Vazquez, No Consensus: Patchwork Remedies and the Health Crisis Linked to Ethylene Oxide Medical Sterilization Facilities, 41 N. Ill. U. L. Rev. 1 (2020).

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