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Plans for Tucson sterilization facility prompts air quality concerns

Dangers include birth defects, cancer risks
Posted at 11:00 AM, Feb 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-01 16:45:23-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Plans for building a new medical instrument sterilization facility are prompting concerns within the community.

The Pima County Department of Environmental Quality opened a 90-day public comment period back in September 2021.

But just last week, the Pima County Board of Supervisors had a study session agenda item discussing the proposed Becton Dickinson facility.

City of Tucson Council Member Steve Kozachik has since expressed interest in ethylene oxide, which is used to sterilize medical equipment.

Pima County's Supervisors Dr. Matt Heinz and Vice Chair Adelita Grijalva joined Kozachik in wanting answers to plans in place and requirements being made to protect the public if a catastrophic event releases the toxic agent.

Becton Dickinson Company Facility Site Google Earth.png

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says exposure to this chemical may cause headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, breathing difficulties, drowsiness, weakness, exhaustion, eye and skin burns, frostbite and reproductive effects.

Additionally, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency documents the dangers of ethylene oxide range from acute, chronic and cancer risks, to potential reproductive and developmental effects.

Construction for the facility would be near the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, however, according to Kozachik, the military doesn’t want it where it’s being planned.