LINCOLNSHIRE – U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Deerfield, recently announced an award of more than $270,000 for Lake County Environmental Works, a local environmental advocacy organization, to conduct community ambient air monitoring for ethylene oxide, an industrial chemical that the Environmental Protection Agency identifies as a known carcinogen.
The EPA grant funding was made possible through the passage of the American Rescue Plan Act.
“This is major news for Lake County,” Schneider said in a news release. “Since 2018, I have been pushing for federal funding of air monitoring for EtO in our community. I am thrilled to announce the EPA will award Lake County Environmental Works this funding.
“I will keep advocating for stricter federal restrictions on EtO emissions and continue the work of the bipartisan Ethylene Oxide Task Force that I founded in 2019. I look forward to working with Lake County Environmental Works to implement this critical funding and use their data to inform the work ahead.”
The announcement of federal funding will enable Lake County Environmental Works to gather data on ambient air levels of EtO in Lake County communities to inform federal emissions regulations. Their work also will inform air monitoring efforts in other EtO-impacted communities going forward.
“We are excited about the opportunity to address some outstanding concerns for those living near high-use ethylene oxide facilities in Lake County, to assess community levels of ethylene oxide with improved test equipment and procedures,” said John Aldrin at Lake County Environmental Works. “This grant will also provide critical data to support models that are the basis for facility permits. As well, it will be a first-of-its-kind demonstrator of a community-based mobile real-time fence-line monitoring system for EtO.”
Since 2018, Schneider has called on the EPA to conduct federal ambient air monitoring of these two Lake County sites and has pushed for federal funding for EtO ambient air monitoring in annual appropriations legislation every year. Ambient air monitoring is especially important for facilities that use EtO because fugitive emissions – those released inadvertently by the facility, not through the stacks – have been a proven source of community exposure to EtO.