|GRN Recycle Talk FAQ
Date: Wed, 28 May 97 11:07 WET DST From: FRIEDMAN.FRED@EPAMAIL.EPA.GOV (Fred Friedman) Subject: Re: Looking for information about clinical waste (Ralf Loeser)
May 28, 1997
Dear Ralf Loeser,
The chief way that clinical wastes are disposed of in the US (and elsewhere) is by incineration. The wastes contain infectious or unsterile elements which are too risky to be dealt with by any other method. There is a controversy currently in the US about the way that US EPA regulated the incineration of medical wastes since medical plastics (chiefly polyvinyl chloride) produce unacceptable emissions (like dioxin).
There is a little recycling of medical plastics, chiefly of sharps (syringes). The firm in the US most associated with this practice is called BioMed, with facilities in Pennsylvania, Florida, North Carolina, and Chelsea, Massachusetts.
The sources that will detail US policy are:
Second Interim Report To Congress: Medical Waste Management in the US, December, 1990, EPA/530-SW-90-087.
Managing and Tracking Medical Wastes: A Guide to the Federal Program for Treatment, Destruction, and Disposal Facilities, September, 1989, EPA/530-SW-89-023.
EPA data shows that 70% of hospital waste is incinerated onsite; 15% is sterilized in autoclaves and 15% is transported off-site for treatment. 10% of the off-site waste is incinerated.
As recently as the end of 1995, waste reduction had been applied to medical waste by a number of hospitals; an Arthur D. Little study suggested that source reduction could accouunt for a 30% reduction nationwide. Howwever, far more responsible for the reduction in hospital waste is the changes in the medical profession: home health care is substituting for hospital care in many situations, and this, far more
than any waste management is responsible for the waste reduction achieved.
The last source worthy of your attention from so far off is by the now defunct Congressional Office of Technology Assessment, Issues in Medical Waste Management Background Paper October, 1988, and, though a decade old, still deserves to be read along with the 7-8 year old US EPA documents.
Order them all from the National Technical Information Service (referred to earlier in this website under the message from GRN and me)
-- Research Library for RCRA