What Are the Health Risks of EtO?
According to the USEPA, short-term inhalation exposure to high concentrations of EtO can cause headache, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, respiratory irritation and, in some cases, vomiting and other types of gastrointestinal distress. Long-term exposure can irritate the eyes, skin, throat, and lungs, and harm the brain and nervous system, causing headaches, memory loss, and numbness.
Studies show breathing air containing elevated levels of EtO over many years can increase the risk of some types of cancers. Workers exposed to EtO are associated with an increased risk of cancers of the white blood cells, as well as an increased risk of breast cancer in females.
It is important to recognize that each type of cancer has its own risk factors, some of which are better understood than others. It is very rare that a specific cause can be found for any particular case of cancer. More information is available on the CDC’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).
It should be noted that the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources’ Bureau for Public Health (BPH) conducted an initial assessment of the cancer registry for the areas of concern in Institute and South Charleston in December 2019 and did not identify elevated levels of the cancers associated with EtO in these areas.