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Re: Autoclave Emissions

Joel, I don't know if you discussed this with Mary as yet, but I recall questioning air pollution control district permits/requirements, etc. when Mary and I visited the microwave unit  that UC Davis Med Center uses for a portion of their medical wastes (those that are not incinerated offsite or are hazardous).   The microwave operates very much like an autoclave in that it "sanitizes" certain wastestreams, but does not utilize an incineration/combusion process per se.  The microwaved waste is then landfilled at a solid waste facility.

The response I got from the environmental manager was that their device was "exempt" from air permitting requirements because of the lack of, or minimal, emissions.  Inasmuch as DTSC does not have regulatory authority for medical waste, the equipment is not in our purview.  Somehow my skeptical sense has somewhat of a problem with not requiring air monitoring/permits for  this type of equipment. .  Now,  autoclaves may or may not fall under the same exemption umbrella.  One intuitively recognizes the "steam" process of an autoclave as compared to a microwave analgous to a chamber filled with hot steaming water;  however, when you "cook" something, no matter what the source of the heat/energy which moves the molecules and all that, the moisture and anything else clinging to it goes somewhere--unless you have a closed loop, completely encapsulated system.

I don't know whether or not this has provided what you want, but it is food for thought.

Maxine Richey, OPPTD, HQ-25
400 P Street  P.O. Box 806
Sacramento, CA  95812-0806
(916) 445-2926
FAX:  (916) 327-4494
email     mrichey@dtsc.ca.gov

>>> "Joel Blood" <JBlood@dtsc.ca.gov> 01/05/00 04:53PM >>>
Hi everyone,

I have a client who is seeking information on Autoclave emissions.  California does use llandfilling and autoclaving as methods to dispose of hospital waste.  We are interested in any information on emissions from autoclaves,  

Has anyone looked into mercury and its effects when it gets into an autoclave, and if technicians have been exposed to mercury when the autoclave door is opened?

Any help on this issue will be greatly appreciated.


Joel Blood

Western Regional P2 
Information Clearinghouse
(800) 700-5854
(fax)  (916) 327-4494
P.O. Box 806,
Sacramento, CA 95812-0806