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EPA AWARDS $155,000 IN GRANTS TO LESSEN HOSPITAL POLLUTION IN BAY AREA

Release Date: 11/23/1999
Contact Information: Leo Kay, U.S. EPA, (415) 744-2201

     SAN FRANCISCO -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently awarded $155,000 to four local organizations to explore new ways that Bay Area hospitals can increase their recycling of discarded medical supplies.

     The funding is part of a larger national effort to curb mercury pollution and other waste from hospitals.  Last year, the U.S. EPA signed an agreement with the American Hospital Association vowing to virtually eliminate mercury wastes by 2005, while achieving an overall one-third reduction in total hospital wastes.

     "We are pleased to be working with the medical community, local environmental groups and local and state organizations in devising new and safe methods for limiting the amount of waste generated by Bay Area hospitals," said U.S. EPA Regional Administrator Felicia Marcus. "Pollution prevention has achieved phenomenal results in other sectors -- our health care providers can be all-around models of public health and environmental protection as well."
     
     A majority of unrecycled waste from hospitals in the Bay Area and throughout northern California is sent to Integrated Environmental Services in Oakland, where it is incinerated.  Environmental groups and neighbors of the facility have recently protested the incineration, which must be approved under a permit currently under review by the the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

$100,000 -- Waste Reduction in California Hospitals to the California Department of Health Services

This grant will help  pilot pollution prevention strategies in several Bay Area hospitals with the intent of transferring the lessons learned to other health care facilities.  Specific activities include:

   - Revise the California Department of Health Services Medical Waste Self Assessment Manual to incorporate source reduction, solid waste reduction and mercury reduction.
   - Conduct 4-6 waste reduction audits in Bay Area hospitals.
   - Develop an awards program to recognize hospital waste reduction efforts.

$30,000 -- Solid Waste Management Assistance Grant to Contra Costa County

This funding will be used to produce signs for all California Hospitals that will instruct healthcare providers in what is -- and what is not -- legally appropriate for disposal as solid and medical waste.  The program will result in less solid waste being disposed of as medical waste through incineration or other waste treatment facilities, and more solid waste being available for recycling.

$20,000 -- San Francisco Bay Area Hospital Waste Reduction

The funding will be used to hold a series of training sessions and meetings with leading health care institutions, regulatory agencies and public health agencies to implement innovative waste management practices.  The program will educate and mobilize 40 grassroots community members in the Bay Area around issues of medical waste disposal and alternative technologies, and will also train and develop five community leaders to participate in decisions around health care waste management practices that affect their communities.  Partners in the "Bay Area Health Care Without Harm Coalition" include: People United for a Better Oakland; Commonwealth; Center for Environmental Health; GreenAction; Communities for a Better Environment; Natural Resources Defense Council; Physicians for Social Responsibility; UCSF Students for Health Care Without Harm; and the California Nurses Association.

$5,000 -- San Francisco Bay Area Healthcare Pollution Prevention Project to Alameda County

This funding will foster communication between communities, hospitals, public agencies and waste treatment facilities in order to encourage reduction of the total health care waste stream, including medical, solid and hazardous waste.

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