Research Projects

Project at a Glance

Project Status: complete

Report Published January 1992:

Title: Survey of medical waste incinerators and emissions control.

Principal Investigator / Author(s): Barton, R G

Contractor: Energy and Environmental Research Corporation

Contract Number: A832-155

Research Program Area: Emissions Monitoring & Control

Topic Areas: Stationary Sources, Toxic Air Contaminants


Medical waste treatment and disposal is an increasingly imposing public health crisis. Incineration has proven to be an effective means of reducing the volume and hazard of medical waste. However, recent studies indicate that medical waste incinerators may emit high concentrations of some toxic compounds, including chlorinated dioxins, toxic metals and acid gases.

Volume I of this report assesses the state of the art of medical waste thermal treatment. The program involved a survey of existing information on medical waste treatment. This information was combined with date from municipal and hazardous waste combustion to identify potential mechanisms responsible for toxic emissions. Manufacturers of combustion and flue gas cleaning equipment were contacted. Information on current design practice was obtained.

It was determined that many of the same mechanisms responsible for toxic emissions from municipal and hazardous waste incineration systems are also responsible for emissions from medical waste incinerators. However, medical waste incinerators present unique challenges due to their size and the heterogeneity of the waste.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has determined that the emissions of polychlorodibenzo-p-dioxins and polychlorodibenzofurans (PCDD/PCDF) from medical waste incinerators represent a significant risk to public health. In response to this determination, CARB has developed regulations to control PCDD/PCDF emissions from medical waste incinerators. These regulations were promulgated as Section 93104, Title 17, of the California Code of Regulations. Sections 93104 places restrictions on PCDD / PCDF emission levels and several medical waste incinerator operating parameters which may affect PCDD/PCDF emissions. Volume II of this report was prepared to assist local air pollution management districts implement the regulations. This volume consists of two parts. Part I provides direct guidance for implementing the regulations. Part II provides background information on the operational and capabilities of flue gas cleaning systems to control PCDD/PCDF emissions.

This report was submitted in fulfillment of contract A832-155 by Energy and Environmental Research Corporation under the partial sponsorship of the CARB.


For questions regarding this research project, including available data and progress status, contact: Heather Choi at (916) 322-3893

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