Ethylene oxide gas has been vented from the Lehigh County B. Braun Medical plant for decades. The chemical is used in industrial operations as a sterilizer and people who spent significant amounts of time near the plant are blaming it for their development of a variety of cancers including breast, brain, blood, and pelvic forms of the disease.
16 plaintiffs are currently taking action against the German medical manufacturer, including representatives from three individuals who died from their illnesses. In setting the stage for the lawsuit, lawyers for the plaintiffs called for immediate action. “This plant is deadly,” they said. “Its dangerous emissions need to be curtailed now and the wrongful harms must be compensated and punished quickly and fairly.”
According to The Morning Call, who first called attention to concerns over the plant’s emissions in July of 2019, ethylene oxide presents a cancer risk that’s 200 times the state average. Odorless and colorless, it is virtually impossible to know that one has been exposed. As the plant pumped untold tons of it into the atmosphere, those in the surrounding area had no idea they were breathing an incredibly dangerous and toxic chemical.
In the corporation’s defense, B. Braun spokesperson Allison Longenhagen for some reason opted to invoke the environment and COVID-19, while simultaneously dismissing the plaintiffs’ concerns as meritless. “B. Braun’s dedication to safety and sustainability is evident in every product that we produce,” she said, “and in every patient touched by our life-saving medical devices, many of which are essential to the fight against COVID-19.”
Ethylene oxide does not appear to be among those things that are essential to those operations. B. Braun has had plans on file with the Commonwealth to reduce ethylene oxide emissions by upward of 99% since 2019.