medical equipment

The Dangers of Ethylene Oxide

Ethylene oxide has been emitted by B. Braun sterilization plants. It is known to cause cancer and other health complications, so people who have been exposed to these chemicals against their will are now filing suit against the company. Only a few of these lawsuits have settled so far, but attorneys working on the claims are hopeful that their clients will get the justice they deserve.

You may be entitled to compensation if you worked at a B. Braun plant that used ethylene oxide. If you are not sure how serious this issue is, you need to understand better just how dangerous exposure to ethylene oxide can be.

To learn more about the dangers of ethylene oxide, continue reading.

What is Ethylene Oxide?

Ethylene oxide, or ETO, is a colorless gas with a sweet odor. It is used as a sterilizing agent in hospitals as well as manufacturing plants because it quickly kills all harmful microorganisms on surfaces such as surgical equipment and instruments. It is also a common fumigant and pesticide and a key ingredient in the production of polyethylene plastics.

Ethylene oxide, which was first made in the lab in 1859 by a French chemist, is a volatile gas that can cause harm to the body in many ways. Yet, It is used in hospitals and other medical settings to sterilize equipment and supplies. The chemical is produced by heating ethylene to at least 300 F. The resulting gas is then cooled and compressed into containers.

It has been used as a sterilizer since the 1940s. For many years, it was the only choice for the procedure, which has been standard in hospitals since the 1950s. Now, even though there are alternatives, companies like B. Braun are still using it to sterilize products. A decision with massive ramifications for the citizens living nearby and working within their plants.

Ethylene Oxide Side Effects

The human body is not capable of breaking down ethylene oxide. When it is inhaled, the gas passes from the lungs into the bloodstream and is subsequently carried to every cell in the body, where it causes damage to DNA, proteins, and cell membranes. Symptoms of exposure to ethylene oxide include nausea, throat irritation, burning sensations in the eyes, nose, and lungs, and dizziness.

Ethylene oxide is a cumulative poison; it builds up in our bodies over time. Short-term exposure to low levels of ethylene oxide will cause eye, nose, and throat irritation. Nausea and dizziness may also occur.

Health problems that are more serious include loss of skin elasticity, nerve and liver damage, chronic lung disease, and reproductive system damage. Studies have connected occupational exposure to ethylene oxide with breast cancer and other forms of cancer, though it has not been proven to be the primary cause of these cancers.

Did B. Braun Know About These Dangers?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has set the permissible exposure limit (PEL) at 0.5 ppm for ethylene oxide over an eight hour period. This is the level at which significant health problems are likely to occur. Studies have shown that breathing air with less than 5 ppm of ethylene oxide for more than two hours can cause damage to the eyes, liver, and kidneys.

OSHA issued this limit, for employers to use in controlling worker exposure to the chemical, based on risks associated with short-term exposure to high concentrations of ethylene oxide. No level of exposure to ethylene oxide is considered safe; however, one would need to breathe much higher levels of ethylene oxide than OSHA's permissible exposure limit to experience long-term health effects. This is why B. Braun allegedly put its employees at risk of serious harm, as the company made a conscious decision to put sales before safety.

B. Braun May Have Knowingly Caused You Harm

At the very least, B. Braun has been negligent in their use of ethylene oxide. While it is not clear whether they knew of the full danger of their actions, it can be said that they were irresponsible in not recognizing the damage they were doing to their workers and others who lived near their facilities.

Therefore, the opportunity to claim compensation from them exists now. To take action against B. Braun to recover compensation for your illness and injuries, please get in touch with Kwartler Manus, LLC. One of our lawyers will guide you through the process of filing a claim against the company.

Reach out by filling out the contact form on this page, or call our office at (267) 214-8608.

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