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E-M:/ County Commissioners Urges Henry Ford to Shut Incinerator

------------------------------------------------------------------------- Enviro-Mich message from Mary Beth Doyle -------------------------------------------------------------------------

Wayne County Commissioners Urge Closure of
Henry Ford Hospital Incinerator

For more information, contact:
Donelle Wilkins, Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice, (313) 821-1064
Ed McArdle, Sierra Club Southeast Michigan Chapter, (313) 388-6645
Mary Beth Doyle, Ecology Center, (734) 663-2400, ext.108

December 23, 1999

By an overwhelming majority, Wayne County Commissioners have passed a resolution urging Henry Ford Hospital to close down its medical waste incinerator and burn only the small portion of its waste which poses a serious public health threat. Henry Ford Hospital will be the Michigan's largest on-site hospital incinerator, after the University of Michigan Hospital incinerator shuts down early next year.

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.

Henry Ford Hospital currently burns five millions tons of waste a year. The vast majority of this waste is no different than municipal trash and can be disposed of using the same methods used for household trash, including recycling.

"We're glad that the Wayne County Commissioners are joining us in asking Henry Ford Hospital to reduce pollution to the community," said Anna Holden, from the Sierra Club Southeast Michigan Group. "Hospitals have no business exacerbating health problems."

"Detroiters are already exposed to more than their fair share of pollution, and hospitals should not be adding to that burden" said Donelle Wilkins, Director of Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice. "Henry Ford Health Systems has shut down their incinerator at Cottage Hospital in Grosse Pointe and should the same in Detroit."

Alternatives such as steam sterilization are cost competitive, less polluting, and provide an incentive to reduce waste.

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

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

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