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EPA tightens emission regulations for medical waste incinerators.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established new emission regulations for existing hospital, medical and infectious waste incinerators (HMIWI). In a press release, EPA says the new emission limits “will reduce about 390,000 pounds of several pollutants each year including acid gases, nitrogen oxides, and metals such as lead, cadmium and mercury.”

Acid gases, such as hydrogen chloride and sulfur dioxide, will account for about 62 percent of the annual emissions reduction. Nitrogen oxides will account for approximately 37 percent of the reduction, particulate matter about 0.8 percent, carbon monoxide about 0.3 percent and metals/dioxins/furans 0.2 percent.

The revised guidelines will require 50 of the 57 operating HMIWI to improve their emissions performance, EPA says. The agency also estimates that the total cost for operating HMIWI to comply with the revised guidelines will be approximately $15.5 million per year.

The new standards settle a lawsuit filed nearly 12 years ago by the Sierra Club and the National Resources Defense Council. The suit challenged EPA's methodology for adopting its HMIWI emission regulations.

EPA's final notice on the revised regulations can be downloaded at the following Web address:

The final rule and other background information also are available at or in hardcopy form at the EPA Docket Center Public Reading Room, located in Washington.

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