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Cosmed Group, Inc. Agrees to Pay $1.5 Million for Clean Air Act Violations

Release Date: 8/18/2005
Contact Information: For more information contact the Office of External Affairs at (214) 665-2200.

     Dallas County and three other densely-populated urban areas in the United States will benefit from clean air projects valued at $1 million as part of an agreement the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reached with Cosmed Group, Inc., resolving the first nationwide settlement of a Clean Air Act enforcement action for violations of the "Maximum Achievable Control Technology" standards for ethylene oxide emissions from sterilization facilities.  The company will also pay a $500,000 penalty.

     "EPA is using the effective enforcement tools provided by the Clean Air Act to protect human health and the environment while ensuring a level playing field for industry," EPA Regional Administrator Richard E. Greene said.  "I am pleased that EPA was able to bring additional clean air benefits to the Dallas/Fort Worth area through this action."  

     Cosmed is a national contract sterilization company with alleged violations at six facilities including one in Grand Prairie, Texas. Clean Air Act violations alleged at the Grand Prairie plant include failure to conduct initial performance testing of sterilization chamber vent control equipment for four sterilization chambers, failure to demonstrate continuous compliance with operating limits, and failure to submit written report of deviation.

     Cosmed will spend $182,000 to convert approximately 32 gasoline powered Dallas County school bus engines to cleaner-burning propane.  The conversion is expected to eliminate 34.3 tons of oxides of nitrogen, among other pollutants, during the first three years following the conversion.

     The EPA claims that between about 1998 and 2003 Cosmed failed to install pollution control equipment in a timely manner, failed to measure its ethylene oxide emissions, and failed to submit required reports to EPA for facilities in Baltimore, Md., Grand Prairie, Texas, San Diego, Calif., Coventry, R.I.,  South Plainfield, N.J., and Waukegan, Ill.  

     Other clean air projects benefiting communities near Cosmed facilities in Camden, N.J., Lake County, Ill., and San Diego, Calif., will reduce pollution from diesel vehicles and equipment through the use of advanced pollution controls and cleaner diesel fuel.  

     All the projects will deliver important public health benefits to large populations in these mostly urban neighborhoods, which typically bear a disproportionate environmental burden. Together, the projects will eliminate approximately 235 tons of air pollution, including toxic air pollutants that pose serious health concerns.  

     The Consent Decree, lodged today at the U.S. District Court in Rhode Island, requires Cosmed to complete environmental audits at all eight of its current and former facilities and establish an environmental management system that will help ensure the company fully complies with environmental regulations into the future.

     Ethylene oxide is a probable human carcinogen, and may cause serious reproductive harm, irritate the lungs, and damage the liver and kidneys.  In addition, as a volatile organic compound, ethylene oxide also contributes to the formation of ground-level ozone.  

     Ozone can irritate people's respiratory systems, causing coughing and throat irritation.  Exposure to ground level ozone can also aggravate asthma and damage lung cells, and may cause permanent lung damage.  These effects can be more pronounced in children and people with cardiovascular or respiratory disease.
     Federal ethylene oxide standards apply to large facilities that use the chemical in sterilization or fumigation processes.  At one time, Cosmed operated about one-third of all sterilization facilities regulated by the ethylene oxide standards.  Cosmed's operations involved sterilizing products for the food and medical industries.  Early this year Cosmed sold five facilities representing its medical products sterilization operations.

     The proposed consent decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.  More information about the settlement is available at