Ethylene Oxide (ETO) is a colourless and flammable gas that smells sweet and ether-like. It is an organic compound that exists naturally in volcanic environments or with manure and sewage. Ethylene Oxide has a melting point of -112.55 Celsius and a boiling point -10.5 Celsius.
Ethylene Oxide poses a significant risk to human health and is carcinogenic. The most common ways of exposure are via inhalation and ingestion in occupational, environmental or consumer exposure. As ethylene oxide is in many products and environments, it is not uncommon for people to become affected. People who live and work in industrial factories that use or produce it can be impacted. But also, the wider public can be affected simply through exposure to tobacco smoke or using products sterilised with gas, like cosmetics and medical equipment.
Short-term symptoms of ethylene oxide exposure can include difficulties breathing, sickness, weakness and eye and skin burns. However, human exposure to ethylene oxide has been proven to cause cancers such as lymphoma and leukaemia and has been associated with stomach and breast cancer. The severity of health impacts depends on how long a person is exposed and how close the contact to the gas is.
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