The Danger of Ethylene Oxide

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2 minutes

What is ethylene oxide?

Ethylene oxide (EtO) is an organic compound, defined by the formula C2H4O. It is a colorless and flammable gas with a slightly sweet odor.

Where is it used?

Fine particulate matter (e.g. diesel exhaust) is a significant problem contributing to over 3.2 million premature deaths per year globally. The particles in this gas are so small that they settle in the lungs and then enter the bloodstream.

Is ethylene oxide toxic?

EtO is a poisonous gas and can show symptoms after already a short exposure. The gas is classified as a Group 1 carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

In the first place, symptoms may be eye pain, blurry vision, sore throat, cough, difficulty breathing, dizziness, nausea, headache, cramping, blisters, vomiting. In addition, the risk of miscarriage in female workers, impairment of testicular function and sperm concentration may be increased. Secondly, with long-term exposure, it can lead to genetic damage, nerve damage, leukemia, lymphoma and breast cancer.

Workers in the medical services, chemical, rubber and plastics industries are at increased risk of exposure to ethylene oxide. It is therefore important to keep this gas well under control.

How to protect yourself from ethylene oxide?

In order to protect yourself and your employees from exposure to ethylene oxide, there are a number of strict precautions you can take to avoid inhalation or skin contact with the gas. Think of process housing, ventilation systems, eye and safety showers, protective clothing, safety glasses…

In addition, it is highly recommended to perform continuous exposure measurements. Thanks to permanent, real-time monitoring, you can closely monitor the gas, allowing you to act proactively to completely avoid outbreaks or increases in gas.

Continue monitoring in de praktijk

In samenwerking met Euromate biedt InsightAir permanente monitoring van ethyleenoxide aan een Nederlandse klant. Meer specifiek gaat het om de monitoring in vier industriële hallen met elk 100.000 kubieke meter oppervlakte.

Het online platform van InsightAir bevat een waarschuwingssysteem dat stijgende EtO-concentraties detecteert en een signaal stuurt naar de gebruikers. Daarnaast heeft InsightAir de lokale industriële luchtreinigers en ventilatiesystemen slim gemaakt. Bij het bereiken van de vooraf gedefinieerde limiet zal de lokale industriële luchtreiniger/ventilatie automatisch gaan werken.

Deze automatisering is mogelijk door de monitor en de luchtreiniger/ventilatie te koppelen met de InsightAir Air Quality Controller. Door de grenswaarde van EtO ruim voor de wettelijke grenswaarde in te stellen, en dankzij de combinatie van het online platform en de Air Quality Controller, kan een veilige werkomgeving voor de werknemers worden gegarandeerd.