Health agencies look into cancer risks near Sandy medical facility

Aug 3, 2022, 5:59 PM
Outside the BD Medical faculty in Sandy....
Outside the BD Medical faculty in Sandy.

SANDY, Utah — Local health agencies are keeping an eye on chemical emissions from a medical sterilization facility.

According to Utah’s Department of Environmental Quality, the Environmental Protection Agency informed them that the BD Medical facility on 9450 S., State Street could be causing long-term cancer risks to surrounding residents.

In the EPA’s report, the facility is a medical sterilization facility that uses ethylene oxide — called EtO — to sterilize medical equipment and materials and has been in operation since 2007.

“EPA scientists and analysts recently completed a risk assessment to understand the impact of EtO emissions from the BD Medical facility,” the EPA report states. “As part of this risk assessment, we used the most recent available information about how much EtO the company emits into the air and we modeled estimated cancer risks to people living nearby.”

Their assessment found an “elevated cancer risk in the Sandy community” as of July 27.

In the EPA risk map, residents from Evening Star Way to State Route 209 and Brandy Creel Drive to US Highway 89 have a higher lifetime residential cancer risk.

This map shows EPA’s estimates of lifetime cancer risks from EtO near BD Medical in Sandy, UT. As you can see from the map risk decreases with distance from the facility. (EPA)

However, the assessment also clarifies that this is a “worst-case scenario” as a person would have to be in the area 24 hours a day for 70 years to be at risk.

“EPA has determined, through computer modeling, that BD Medical is not emitting EtO into the air at levels that pose short-term health risks,” the DEQ statement states.

The two agencies said they are working with the BD Medical facility to reduce emissions with new practices, processes, technology, and other means to reduce EtO emissions.

“Although they are in compliance with all current air pollution regulations,BD Medical has shared plans to voluntarily make upgrades that will significantly reduce EtO emissions when they are in place,” the DEQ states.

BD Medical aims to reduce EtO emissions from the facility by 90% to 95% within the following year.

Sandy City, SLCoHD, DHHS, and the U of U are also contributing by working with BD Medical and will release a health risk assessment by September 2023, with intermittent results to be released to the public.

If you are interested to learn more, you can participate in the national EPA webinar on Aug. 10 and a local community meeting on Aug. 17.

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Health agencies look into cancer risks near Sandy medical facility