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E-M:/ UM Hospital to Shut Down Incinerator

------------------------------------------------------------------------- Enviro-Mich message from Mary Beth Doyle -------------------------------------------------------------------------
For Immediate Release

University of Michigan Hospital to Shut Down Its Incinerator
Detroiters Hope Henry Ford Hospital will follow U of M's lead

For more information, contact:
Mary Beth Doyle, Ecology Center, (734) 663-2400, ext.108
Anna Holden, Sierra Club Southeast Michigan Chapter, (313) 331-0932
Anne Leavitt-Gruberger, Students for a Healthy Hospital, (734) 663-7447

August 20, 1999

The University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers has announced its decision to shut down its medical waste incinerator. The hospital system has decided to dispose of its waste using environmentally preferable steam sterilization, and will institute a comprehensive recycling and waste reduction program.

"We commend the University of Michigan Hospitals for making the right decision," said Tracey Easthope, Director of the Environmental Health Project. "This step, coupled with the hospital's recent pledge to phase out mercury, shows the depth of the University's commitment to environmental stewardship."

"We are very pleased with this announcement," said Anne Leavitt-Gruberger, leader of Students for a Healthy Hospital. "This sends the message that the University of Michigan is dedicated to being a top hospital in all aspects of health care."

Medical waste incineration is a concern because of the hazardous contaminants that are created and released during combustion. The incineration of medical waste is listed as the third largest source of dioxin and the third largest source of mercury to the environment. Incineration also emits dangerous compounds like lead, cadmium, arsenic and PCB's. After being released into the air, these compounds are deposited on land and water, and can build up in the food chain.

"We hope that Henry Ford will follow the University of Michigan's example," said Anna Holden, of the Southeast Michigan Chapter of the Sierra Club. "Hospitals should not be in the business of polluting our cities."

"Henry Ford Hospital should be improving the quality of life for Detroit residents, especially those who live near the hospital," said Donelle Wilkins, Director of Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice. "This is an opportunity for Henry Ford Hospital to take the challenge of meeting its mission."

Alternatives such as steam sterilization are cost competitive, less polluting, and provide an incentive to reduce waste. The vast majority of hospital waste is no different than municipal trash and can be disposed of using the same methods used for household trash, including recycling.


Mary Beth Doyle, MPH
Environmental Health Project
Ecology Center of Ann Arbor
117 N. Division
Ann Arbor MI 48104

734-663-2400 ext 108
734-663-2414 (fax)

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