A Chicago Company Sterigenics Allegedly Covered Up Toxic Emissions

Published on February 7, 2019

A Chicago-based medical equipment sterilization company has been accused of covering up decades of dumping toxic chemicals and gas into Chicago suburbs. The company has also allegedly been operating secret facilities in Chicago suburbs for years now. A new report from former employees has outed the company’s mishandling of toxic chemicals and substances. Now that citizens are getting sick, what does that mean for Sterigenics?


Recounts from former Sterigenics employees claim that the company forced them to dump toxic chemicals into public water. Chemicals were dumped into the sewer system, which eventually contributed to making people in the area sick, according to reports. Other reports claim that the company is still pumping ethylene oxide into the air. Ethylene oxide is found to cause several forms of cancer and is now being linked to chronic illnesses in the area. The company would allegedly cut corners when handling the dumping of these chemicals to cut costs. If the chemicals were dumped appropriately, it would have been costly and time consuming to shut down operations while the chemicals were removed.

Protesters have taken the streets in the wake of the news that Sterigenics has been allegedly illegally dumping and emitting toxic chemicals into suburban Chicago. Representatives for the Trump administration have said that they are aware of the issue. The administration has said that it doesn’t have enough evidence to take action. Protesters are calling for the company to be shut down immediately. In a statement released by Sterigenics, the company said, “monitoring information about ethylene oxide in the Willowbrook area remains limited. It remains premature to draw conclusions about long-term health risks from the data.”

Legal Involvement

Sterigenics has been under investigation by the EPA since 2017. The company has been being watched after it was found that there are higher cancer risks in the area. The EPA has determined that Sterigenics must be at fault for higher toxins in the air based on wind patterns from samples taken near the company. When the EPA released a new study on Tuesday about the chemical levels in the air and water in WIllowbrook, the Chicago suburb in which Sterigenics is located, people were outraged.

You can read more about the studies taken by the Chicago EPA on the Chicago Tribune website here. Politicians from both parties have called for Sterigenics to shut down its operations in the area permanently. As of right now, the company has not expressed any plans to do so. Officials say that there is not enough evidence to legally get involved. Members of the community are hoping that the company will shut down on its own.

Julia Sachs is a former Managing Editor at Grit Daily. She covers technology, social media and disinformation. She is based in Utah and before the pandemic she liked to travel.

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