Ethylene Oxide (EtO) Safety at BD

BD cares deeply for our employees and the communities in which we operate. As part of this commitment, we take our responsibility to be a good corporate citizen very seriously. This includes going beyond government requirements for ethylene oxide (EtO) emissions to ensure safe operations for employees and the local community. We are also providing resources —like this website —to provide transparency of our operations to our local communities.

We continue to take all steps necessary to ensure the safe operation of our facilities, and we are confident our emissions are below all government requirements. We simply would not operate a facility that we do not feel is safe for employees and neighboring residential areas.

Our EtO Facilities

As part of our commitment to the well-being of our communities, BD’s Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) standards ensure that all BD facilities are designed and operate with a high level of process safety and environmental controls. We invest in and deploy best available emission control technology at our facilities to achieve 99.999% destruction of EtO in our plant emissions. Regulations only require 99% destruction, but BD has regularly invested in and upgraded technology to achieve 99.999% destruction for the safety of our employees and communities.

We verify the effectiveness of our emission control systems through stack testing (conducted by an independent third-party), in accordance with permit requirements. BD meets or exceeds all local, state and federal EtO emission standards in Covington, including the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP), and our EtO levels are well below requirements under the Clean Air Act.

Medical device sterilization is essential to a functioning and effective health care system. We sterilize our medical devices with EtO in order to protect patients from the risks of infectious diseases caused by bacteria, viruses and fungi. For a large number of medical devices, EtO is the only option for sterilization due to material sensitivities and/or the complexity of design. Many devices can be damaged by moist heat, radiation and other modes of sterilization.

In fact, AdvaMed —a trade association comprised of medical technology and device organizations —estimates that roughly half of all medical devices — or about 20 billion devices annually in the U.S. — are sterilized by EtO in accordance with U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requirements. As an industry, and within BD, we have subject matter experts who work each day to carry out our commitment to the safe use of EtO in our sterilization operations.