EPA to Ambulances: Lay Off the...Pesticides?
The EPA has ordered a hospital services company in New Jersey to stop applying disinfectants in ambulances using a fogging system because the process "is not an approved use for any of the EPA-registered pesticides used by [the company]" and could be making people ill. The case is isolated in NJ for now, but could have national implications. The Monmouth-Ocean Hospital Corporation (MONOC) had been spraying pesticides using a process that breaks them down into micro-particles that can make people ill, and potentially have done so already.
From an EPA press release:
"MONOC has been put on notice that what they were doing is not consistent with federal law," said Judith Enck, EPA Regional Administrator. "A ride to a hospital should not include over exposure to pesticides. EPA has ordered the hospital to stop this practice immediately."
Prior to asking EPA to take over the case, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection issued a notice to Monmouth-Ocean Hospital Corporation informing them that they were in violation of pesticide law. According to information that EPA obtained through inspections and through the corporation itself, MONOC misapplied the disinfectant Zimek QD in ambulances using a fogger about 125 times, and misapplied the disinfectant Sporicidin in a similar manner at least 1 time.
The EPA said it has reason to believe that Zimek, the company that manufactures the "micro-mist" spraying system, "and/or its representatives made claims for a use not accepted in connection with the registration of either product."
The New York Times reports that the labels for the pesticides in question refer specifically to "hard non-porous surfaces"—but:
"How do you fog an ambulance without contacting porous surfaces?" [longtime occupational health official Eileen] Senn said. "I'd love to see their protocol for how ambulances should be fogged. I'll bet it doesn't say to take the seats and carpet out -- on the contrary, they tout the fact that this gets on everything and is therefore more protective."
The Times also reports, "while the short-term impact of the order may be local, the dispute may well reverberate in other localities where Zimek's pesticide misting caught on as a high-tech shield against the H1N1 flu virus, hospital "super-bugs" and other recent public health scares."
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