Ethylene oxide (EtO) is produced in large volumes and is primarily used as an intermediate in the production of several industrial chemicals, the most notable of which is ethylene glycol. It is also used as a fumigant in certain agricultural products and as a sterilant for medical equipment and supplies. Unfortunately, EtO possesses several physical and health hazards that merit special attention. EtO is both flammable and highly reactive. Acute exposures to EtO gas may result in respiratory irritation and lung injury, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, shortness of breath, and cyanosis. Chronic exposure has been associated with the occurrence of cancer, reproductive effects, mutagenic changes, neurotoxicity, and sensitization.
Exposures to ethylene oxide are addressed in specific OSHA standards for general industry, maritime, and construction.
Provides references that aid in recognizing and evaluating ethylene oxide hazards in the workplace.
Provides assistance and information about the management of occupational exposures to ethylene oxide.
Provides references that aid in preventing and controlling exposures to ethylene oxide.
Provides links and references to additional resources related to exposures to ethylene oxide.