On September 19, 2022, a Cook County (Illinois) jury awarded $363 million to 70-year-old plaintiff Susan Kamuda in the first of many lawsuits against industrial sterilization company Sterigenics. These lawsuits accuse the company of a reckless, decades-long pollution of Willowbrook, Illinois with ethylene oxide. The jury in this case went beyond the damages requested by Ms. Kamuda, who lived within a quarter-mile of Sterigenics’ Willowbrook facility for more than 30 years. While Ms. Kamuda only asked for $21 million in compensatory damages, the jury awarded …Continue Reading
Illinois has joined a growing list of states seeking to regulate per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and compounds. On January 28, 2021, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency announced four “health advisories” in accordance with the Illinois Part 620 groundwater regulations (35 Ill. Adm. Code Part 620). Specifically, the four PFAS compounds Illinois issued health advisories on are PFBS, PFHxS, PFHxA, and PFOA.
Pursuant to the Illinois Administrative Code, 35 Ill. Adm. Code 620.605, health advisories are issued when a chemical substance that is harmful to …Continue Reading
Illinois’ highest state court in Gordon Berry, et al, v. The City of Chicago has rejected a proposed class action that threatened to overwhelm Chicago with claims over elevated lead contamination risk from its old lead water lines. On September 24, 2020, the Illinois Supreme Court overturned the ruling of a state appeals court, ruling a Circuit Court of Cook County judge was correct in finding Chicago homeowners needed to do more than simply claim the lead in their water was dangerous in order to …Continue Reading
While the recent focus on electronic cigarettes and vaping products has been on their potential health effects on users, the Illinois EPA is looking at a potential new issue – the improper disposal of their waste products.
A team at the Illinois EPA is developing methods to prevent toxic materials in discarded e-cigarettes and vaping products from polluting the environment and damaging human health. E-cigarettes and vaping products contain numerous materials, each with various waste regulations. E-cigarettes, which are disposable and closely resemble a traditional …Continue Reading
So far in 2020, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NC DEQ) proposed a maximum concentration level in groundwater for two PFAS compounds, while the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency released proposed draft amendments to its groundwater standards, including standards for a wide range of PFAS compounds. North Carolina’s and Illinois’ actions join prior efforts at legislation in other states, including Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Vermont.
The NC DEQ is proposing a maximum concentration of 70 parts per trillion (ppt) for PFOS and …Continue Reading
In 2003, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency had over 1,200 employees, including engineers, chemists, biologists, and attorneys. Last year, that number had been reduced to 639, according to a new report.
“Protecting Illinois EPA’s Health, so that It Can Protect Ours,” published by the Abrams Environmental Law Clinic staff, documents reductions in staff and budget cuts at the state agency over the last 15 years. The report also details a decline in air pollution inspections, water quality monitoring, and enforcement actions.
The report claims that …Continue Reading
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released new data regarding the concentrations of ethylene oxide, a colorless and carcinogenic gas, found in metropolitan areas throughout the country. That data shows that the highest concentrations can be found in Phoenix, Arizona, followed closely by Chicago, Illinois, Calvert City, Kentucky, and Chester, New Jersey.
Ethylene oxide is an industrial compound most commonly used to produce other chemicals or as a sterilizing agent for medical instruments. The EPA released the data as part of an ongoing effort …Continue Reading
On October 30, 2019, the Illinois House of Representatives voted to approve legislation that would effectively ban the use of ethylene oxide, which is a chemical used for sterilizing the majority of medical devices found in hospital operating rooms and other health care settings. In moving forward with the legislation, Illinois lawmakers rejected warnings from federal health care regulators and medical device and surgical tool manufacturers that the measure would lead to shortages of properly sterilized health care tools. To lawmakers, however, the legislation is …Continue Reading
Last week, the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Administrator, Andrew R. Wheeler, signed a rule for publication that would repeal the 2015 Clean Water rule, also known as the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule.
The 2015 WOTUS rule allowed for a significant extension of the reach of the Clean Water Act (CWA) by expanding the definition of “waters of the United States” to include waters such as headwaters, wetlands, and streams. The 2015 rule interpreted the CWA to cover these waters reasoning that they require protection “in order to restore and …Continue Reading
Over 30 personal injury lawsuits have been filed against Sterigenics LLC in Cook County, Illinois. The suits are the latest development in the company’s issues arising out of claims its medical equipment cleaning plant emits harmful fumes.
Jeanne Hochhalter is one of those suing Sterigenics. She claims that the cancer she developed is directly related to the plant’s release of the chemical ethylene oxide.
“I got breast cancer. I have no family history of it,” Hochhalter said.
A Sterigenics spokesman said the company “has consistently …Continue Reading