Support Strict Medical Waste Regulation—SB 11

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Support Strict Medical Waste Regulation—SB 11
Sierra Club asks you to actively support Senate Bill 11. This legislation, proposed by Senator
Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Township), requires medical waste incinerators in Michigan to upgrade
pollution controls to better protect the health of Michigan citizens and the state’s natural resources.
In addition to stricter regulation, SB11 requires the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to
take public comment and report on alternatives to incineration for the disposal of medical waste. If
feasible, prudent, and less polluting alternatives are found, DEQ must stop issuing permits for incinerating
medical waste. SB11 will regulate commercial and hospital medical waste incinerators.
Sierra Club urges you to ask Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Committee
Chairman Senator Ken Sikkema (R-Grandville) and members of the Committee to recommend this
bill to the full Senate. An October 30 hearing documented public support for the bill.
SB11 is based on model incinerator regulations prepared by Health Care Without Harm, an
international coalition made up of 330 health, civic, religious, labor, and environmental organizations in 33
countries. The standards proposed are more stringent than those required by the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) and the state of Michigan, but are enforceable; all can be achieved with current
technology. The discharge of lead, mercury and other heavy metals, dioxin, acid gases, and toxins
released by medical incinerators will be greatly reduced.
Why support stricter regulation of medical waste incinerators?
-----Medical waste incinerators release large quantities of mercury, which damages the human nervous
system and pollutes lakes, rivers, and fish throughout Michigan.
-----Medical incinerators generate and release dioxin, one of the most toxic substances known; dioxin has
been linked to cancer, birth defects, and other harmful health effects.
-----Research has shown that rates of asthma and other respiratory diseases are higher near incinerators in
Michigan.
-----Air pollution is responsible for an estimated 60 per cent of water pollution. Michigan will not have clean
water without clean air.
-----Safer alternatives are available. Non-Incineration Medical Waste Treatment Technologies, published by
Health Care Without Harm, evaluates a number of viable alternatives to medical waste incineration. Nonburn methods of treating medical waste emit few pollutants and do not produce dioxin.
-----Southeast Michigan is most adversely affected by medical incineration because of the concentration of
hospitals and continued pollution from the City Medical Waste Services incinerator in Hamtramck. This
commercial incinerator has been polluting neighborhoods in Hamtramck and Detroit for ten years.
Contact Senator Sikkema and members of the Natural Resources and Environmental
Affairs Committee: Mat J. Dunaskis (R-Lake Orion), Harry Gast (R-St. Joseph), Gary Peters (DBloomfield Township) and Joe Young, Jr. (D-Detroit).
For more information on Health Care Without Harm please see their webpage at http://www.hcwh.org/
For more information on Sierra Club’s efforts, contact Anna Holden, Sierra Club’s Health Care Without
Harm Committee Chair, at 313-331-0932 or [email protected]
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