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Early Air Independent Air Quality Test Results presented to Independent Air Quality Oversight Committee on Monday, September 16, 2019

Post Date:09/16/2019 3:43 PM

Information presented at the Monday, September 16, 2019 Independent Air Quality Testing Oversight Committee Meeting

Time:  11:00 a.m.

Location: Smyrna Community Center, Smyrna Community Center – 200 Village Green Circle, Smyrna Ga 30080

Status: Meeting was open to the public with members of media in attendance 

Information consists of results from earliest days of testing. Points of note as follow:

  • Summary Data indicates that 80% of the data presents as “non-detectable” – 75 samples – 80% below detectable limits which is below what can be detected.
  • Sixteen out of 75 indicate levels consistent with background samples throughout the United States.
  • Test results did not reveal anything unusual, as interpreted by testing and Task Force professionals.
  • The remaining nine days of testing will resume once the plant is operational.
  • 1 ppb is equivalent to ½ teaspoon of water in an Olympic size pool.
  • Though day 2 & 3 have an indication of 4.4 ppb south of the facility, not out of range – not considered unusual.
  • Nearly all samplings registering as non-detectable on day 3.
  • Nationwide, testing firm has seen background levels of Ethylene Oxide in locations where there are not sterilization facilities.
  • Background/ambient levels do not have an attributable cause other than simply “evidence of human activity.” Opinions/studies vary on interstate transit activity as a contributing factor.
  • Background levels have been detected in other areas around the nation, in areas with plants and with plants that are not in operation.
  • Results represent three days of testing and these three days are a small snapshot.
  • Data represents 24-hour-a-day testing for three days in a row.
  • Regarding ½ life of Ethylene Oxide, there is not a lot of conclusive research, but because it is a reactive chemical it could be expected that in urban areas it could be hours (such as eight hours) and in clear areas (such as rural) it could be a few days.
  • Do other manufacturing activities in the area complicate detection of Ethylene Oxide? No. Ethylene Oxide has a unique signature.
  • Do these results indicate cause for concern? At present, no.
  • No other testing has been done of facilities after the types of additional controls that are going into operation at the Cobb facility and the testing that will resume once the plant is operational represents a new best practice.
  • Data Summary from Task Force
    • 80% of samples were non-detect for ethylene oxide
    • Laboratory detection limit is 0.04 ppb / 0.072 µg/m3
    • 1 ppb is ½ teaspoon of water in an Olympic-sized swimming pool
    • Detections were consistent with background levels observed at other locations through the US
    • Sterigenics facility was not in operation during the initial sampling effort
    • 5 days complete of 14 days sampling planned

Maps of sampling locations as follows:

Summary of Area Air Sampling – file titled “1 Summary of Area Air Sampling Results for Ethylene Oxide-9.4.2019 thru 9.7.2019.pdf”

Composite document with notes and screen shots of all files.


On Wednesday, August 7, 2019, The City of Smyrna announced the establishment of an Oversight Committee composed of local elected officials, public health and emergency management professionals, as well as other local stakeholders to work with a Task Force of private technology experts to quickly implement a plan to test the air near the Atlanta Sterigenics plant and analyze the results for our community. 

The Independent Air Quality Task Force, established by Mayor Bacon, was also announced to the community to be composed of an emissions chemical engineer, a toxicologist, an industrial hygienist, an environmental attorney, and ambient air sampling experts. This group will also work with GHD, the company that conducted independent testing around the Willowbrook, Illinois Sterigenics plant. 

GHD and members of Independent Air Quality Task Force presented the information and took questions from the Oversight Committee today. 



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