Stericycle Inc.

Environmental Regulations for Medical Waste Incinerators

Congress authorized the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop standards and
guidelines to govern the operation of new and existing incinerators that burn hospital, medical, or infectious waste and authorized the states to develop plans to implement these standards and the guidelines. In 1997, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed guidelines and standards to govern the operation of medical incinerators that regulate emissions of pollutants considered to be carcinogenic or capable of causing toxic effects following exposure at sufficient concentrations.

DAQ developed the Utah State Plan for emissions controls at HMIWIs to satisfy these requirements under the Clean Air Act (CAA). The Plan contains operational requirements for all existing incinerators in Utah that burn or have been burning medical, hospital, or infectious waste. The Division of Air Quality (DAQ) also regulates air emissions from hospital medical/infectious waste incinerators (HMIWI) under Utah Administrative Rules specific to medical waste incinerators.

The Utah State Plan establishes emissions limits for the following pollutants:

  • Cadmium (Cd)
  • Carbon Monoxide (CO)
  • Dibenzofurans (Furans)
  • Dioxins
  • Hydrogen Chloride (HCl)
  • Lead (Pb)
  • Mercury (Hg)
  • Nitrogen Oxides (NOx)
  • Particulate Matter (PM)
  • Sulfur Dioxide (SO2)

The Plan also limits the opacity of the gases leaving the stack or stacks, and, for large incinerators, the opacity of combustion ash.

These emission limits are designed to bring incinerators subject to them to the level of emissions control achieved by those that are already well-controlled using Maximum Achievable Control Technology Standards (MACT). Emission limits for small, medium, and large HMIWIs in Utah can be found in Tables 4A and 4B on pages 19-22 of the Plan (442 KB). The Plan includes monitoring requirements, testing parameters, and reporting and record keeping requirements.

State solid and hazardous waste rules also apply to incinerator operations.

Other Resources


Sources include the Environmental Protection Agency, Utah Administrative Rules R307-222, and the Utah State Plan for HMIWIs.

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