EPA To Reduce Medwaste Incineration Emissions

Washington, D.C. - The U.S. Environmental Protec-tion Agency (EPA) has proposed rules that intend to re-duce air emissions from medical waste incinerators, officials announced.

The proposal aims to reduce nine pollutants by 88,000 tons or 93 percent annually, a spokesperson for the agency said. The target pollutants include dioxin, lead, carbon monoxide, mercury, particulates (dust and soot), sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, cadmium and hydrogen chloride.

Dioxin and mercury emissions are a top priority to the EPA, according to a recent article in Hazardous Waste Business. For example, the proposal reportedly would reduce dioxin output from medical incinerators by 99 percent and cut mercury by approximately 93 percent per year.

When the proposal becomes final in April 1996, existing facilities will have two to five years to comply with the rule, while new facilities will have approximately six months to comply.

EPA's goal is to create a ruling that achieves environmental benefits in the most cost-effective, flexible way possible, according to officials. To explore the issue fully before making a regulatory decision, the agency has re-quested public comment on several areas, including possibly regulating small, rural medical waste incinerators separately. In addition, the agency would like more information on the availability, cost and performance levels of alternative methods of waste disposal, the spokesperson said.

The EPA also has formed a partnership with the De-partment of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Admin-istration to reassess the risk of dioxin to human health.

For further information on the medwaste incinerator proposal, contact: Rick Copland, EPA Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards, (919) 541-5265.