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November 18, 1988

Medical Waste Disposal Rules Expected in 1989

JAMA. 1988;260(19):2784. doi:10.1001/jama.1988.03410190028007

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A NEW LAW, just signed by the President, seeks to ensure safer beaches by creating a paper trail from the hospital to the disposal site for infectious medical wastes.

Before next summer, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans to issue rules that will make sure wastes like syringes and blood vials reach their disposal destination safely, according to Mike Petruska, chief of Special Projects, Characterization Section of the EPA's Office of Solid Waste. The rules, Petruska said, will probably be modeled after the program that currently regulates hazardous waste, which requires documentation to follow the waste.

Spurred by last summer's panic after medical debris washed up on beaches, the "Medical Waste Tracking Act" gives the EPA six months to develop a two-year demonstration program that would track medical wastes in certain states. New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and the Great Lakes states will be the sites of this program.