Jump to main content.

Pesticide News Story: EPA Proposes to Terminate Special Review of Ethylene Oxide (ETO)

For Release: October 29, 2008

EPA is proposing to terminate the Special Review of the pesticide uses of ethylene oxide (ETO). The occupational risks that were the basis for the Special Review have been evaluated and addressed during the pesticide reregistration and tolerance reassessment process. Public comment is invited on the preliminary ETO Special Review decision until November 28, 2008. After evaluating comments received, the Agency will publish a Notice of Final Determination on the ETO Special Review.
EPA originally initiated the ETO Special Review based on developmental toxicity, mutagenicity, and neurotoxic effects in workers. Later, carcinogenicity concerns were raised and were included in the review. Since then, additional data and more comprehensive reviews of the potential risks associated with ETO have been completed. Because the risks that prompted the Special Review have been evaluated and regulatory decisions have been completed, the Agency is proposing to close the ETO Special Review.

During pesticide reregistration, EPA conducted a public, comprehensive review of ETO risks and benefits to determine whether or not ETO registrations meet current standards for registration. The 2006 Tolerance Reassessment and Risk Management Decision (TRED) canceled the use of ETO on basil and required a single chamber for treatment and aeration when fumigating spices with ETO. In 2008, The Agency determined that the benefits of ETO use outweigh the occupational risks associated with its use, provided that the risk mitigation measures in the Agency’s 2008 Reregistration Eligibility Decision (RED) are adopted and label amendments are made to reflect those measures.

As a pesticide, ETO is used primarily in hospitals and at contract facilities to sterilize medical and laboratory items and equipment. ETO treatment is the principal method used to reduce bacterial levels in whole and ground spices and other herbs and seasonings. Other ETO uses, which account for less than one percent of its total annual pesticide use, include sterilization of musical instruments, library and museum artifacts, and cosmetic ingredients, and sterilization/fumigation of beekeeping equipment.

The Federal Register notice and information about ETO and the Special Review Process are available on EPA’s Web site.

Publications | Glossary | A-Z Index | Jobs

Local Navigation

Jump to main content.