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Ethylene Oxide
Ethylene oxide is a highly reactive colourless, odourless and flammable gas that is typically liquefied for transportation and commercial use. Liquid ethylene oxide has a faintly sweet odour similar to ether. Ethylene oxide is used as a fumigant in sterilization processes for spices and medical supplies, packaged cereals, bagged rice, tobacco, clothing and furs. It is used as an agricultural fungicide and as a rocket propellant. Other uses include the production of textiles, detergents, adhesives, polyurethane, foam, pharmaceuticals products and ethylene glycol. Ethylene glycol in turn is used as antifreeze and in the production of polyester fibres. Exposure occurs by inhalation of ethylene oxide gas during various sterilization or manufacturing processes. Because of its high reactivity, ethylene oxide will not persist in the environment when released.
Ethylene oxide is a carcinogen that can cause eye pain, sore throat, difficult breathing, blurred vision, dizziness, nausea, headache, convulsions, blisters and can result in vomiting and coughing if inhaled. Ethylene oxide is also linked to spontaneous abortion, genetic damage, nerve damage, peripheral paralysis, muscle weakness, as well as impaired thinking and memory. Ethylene oxide kept in liquid form is generally cold and evaporates quickly at room temperature. It is more likely to cause frostbite or other cold-related health effects if skin exposure occurs.
         Regulatory Requirements 
Currently, there are no regulations pertaining to ethylene oxide on construction projects. Industrial processes involving ethylene oxide are regulated under the Ontario Occupational Health & Safety Act, R.S.O. 1990, Regulation 841 as amended by O.Reg. 107/04, Designated Substance – Ethylene Oxide. The transport of the waste to the disposal site is controlled by the federal Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act, 1992.