KANAWHA COUNTY, WV (WOWK) — The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) provided an update on Ethylene Oxide (EtO) concerns in Kanawha County.

The WVDEP completed the last round of its four-part air sampling in South Charleston and Institute. Multiple sampling rounds were conducted since concentrations are influenced by factors like wind, weather and facility operations.

The fourth round’s results showed that facilities emitting EtO in those locations are in compliance with the requirements of their state-issued permits.

Additionally, the West Virginia Cancer Registry found no evidence of increased EtO-related cancer risks from the Kanawha County facilities previously identified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The Cancer Registry mapped all supposed EtO-related cancer cases reported by the EPA in Kanawha County from 1993 through 2019. The results found the county does not have higher EtO-related cancer rates compared to other West Virginia counties, nor does it rank compared to counties in other states. Updated mapping can be found here.

In March, the WVDEP hosted a community open house where they were asked to sample for EtO concentrations west of Institute and South Charleston. The WVDEP’s response was to include sites in Buffalo and Guthrie in the fourth-round testing.

A full table of the fourth round sampling results is below. All sites in this round showed EtO concentrations of less than 1 ppb.

Sample LocationResults (ppbv)*Predominant Wind Direction
Guthrie Background Site**0.271Not Available
Buffalo Background Site**0.365Not Available
#0 South Charleston, WV0.146From West
#3 North Charleston, WV0.221From West
#4 North Charleston, WV0.277From West
#10 Institute, WV0.674From West
#13 Institute, WV0.124From West
#14 Institute, WV0.514From West
#15 Institute, WV0.183From West
*Concentrations are measured in parts per billion by volume (ppbv).
**Background site: This is an area with no known emitters of Ethylene Oxide
Method Detect Level (MDL) for the sampling = 0.048 ppbv (MDL is the minimum concentration of a substance that can be measured and reported with 99% confidence that the concentration is greater than zero).

The WVDEP notes that these single data points on their own cannot be used to make conclusions on the possible lifetime health risk from EtO exposure.

Results from all four rounds are available on the WVDEP’s EtO webpage.

Additionally, the results from all rounds along with emissions and weather data from the days sampled will be reviewed by the WVDEP and the U.S. EPA. and put into a final report. The report will be released to the public once it is completed.

At a later date, the WVDEP will announce details for a future meeting on the final report.