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Air Regulations for Hospital/Medical/Infectious Waste Incinerators


photograph of an HMIWI incinerator

What are Hospital/Medical/Infectious Waste Incinerators?

Hospital/medical/infection waste incinerators (HMIWI) are incinerators used by hospitals, health care facilities, and commercial waste disposal companies to burn hospital waste and/or medical/infectious waste. When burned, hospital waste and medical/infectious waste emit various air pollutants, including hydrochloric acid, dioxin/furan, and the toxic metals lead, cadmium, and mercury.

What are the Consequences of the Regulations for New and Existing HMIWIs?

In 1997, EPA issued final standards and guidelines to reduce air pollution at HMIWIs. The guidelines are to be used by States in developing State plans to reduce air pollution from existing HMIWIs built on or before June 20, 1996, and new stringent air emissions standards will be applied to HMIWIs built after June 20, 1996. EPA's air emission standards and guidelines will reduce air emissions from HMIWIs by 75 to 98 percent from 1997 levels.

The regulations will substantially reduce emissions in highly populated urban areas, as well as in more rural areas. Additionally, the regulations will provide some flexibility for small rural community hospitals to help them reduce emissions in a way that is affordable.

How Will the HMWI Regulations Effect Region III?

There are approximately 155 HMIWIs in Region III. A significant number of these existing HMIWIs may permanently shut down in order to avoid the installation costs of emissions controls.

More Information

For additional information about EPA's hospital/medical/infectious waste regulations, access the following EPA Unified Air Toxics Websites:

For additional information about hospital/medical/infectious waste incinerators and solid waste, visit:

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