Effective EPA Compliance for Healthcare

Tom Petersen Healthcare Environments Leave a Comment

This is the third post in our 4-part blog series for the healthcare industry. To view part one, click here and part two, click here.

We help our clients meet the requirements of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and we also help them implement sustainable practices that not only meet, but exceed EPA compliance. Here are some issues many clients face:

Air Permitting.  Hospitals and continuing care facilities have boilers, emergency generators, sterilization systems, and sometimes incinerators that require construction and operating air permits from state and local environmental agencies.  These permits have complex terms and conditions that require constant vigilence to ensure continuous compliance.  There may be daily, weekly, monthly and annual recordkeeping for fuel usage.  We assist numerous hospitals with their air permit compliance, new air permits and 5-year renewals.  See our recent article on air permitting here.

Spills Prevention.  Spills are not uncommon in healthcare facilities, but managing and controlling them is a challenge for most facilities. By creating Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure plans that include spill scenarios, updated site maps showing relevant tanks and storm drains, and conducting regular checks of equipment and identifying potential issues, hospitals and other healthcare facilities can avoid costly spill cleanups.

Cleaning and Pest Control.  Using disinfectants and other chemicals for routine cleaning and pest control can contribute to poor air quality and release toxins into the environment.  Disposal of these chemicals poses additional environmental concerns. Choose green, environmentally friendly products that can be disposed of after use, require less water usage, and contribute to better indoor air quality.

Waste Management. The healthcare industry produces millions of tons of waste annually. The key to control is focusing on reducing the amount of waste produced. Hazardous and pharmaceutical waste are of particular concern for healthcare facilities. We recommend these best practices:

  • Create a waste inventory of all departments with the type of waste and how it should be collected and disposed.
  • Collect waste in properly secured and labeled containers in designated locations near where it can be generated.
  • Restrict collection access to containers to trained, authorized personnel.
  • Obtain all disposal registrations and permits.  If you have any questions about treatment methods or permits, we can help you.
  • Some pharmaceutical waste is considered hazardous and requires special handling and disposal. Ensure hospital staff understand and follow the correct disposal requirements for different types of drug products.

You can find more information about this complex topic in our blog posts here and here, and at the Healthier Hospitals Initiative.

Green Chemistry.  Hospitals are a stew of chemicals, and staff exposure is a primary concern.  In addition to their routine handling of known chemicals, hospitals need to be aware that when new chemicals are introduced into the hospital, these routine controls may be inadequate.  Many hospitals are actively supporting “Green Chemistry” that reduces or eliminates the use of hazardous substances.  Where you have a choice, choose green chemicals with the least effects on health and the environment.

Healthcare facilities face unique challenges in meeting complex federal, state, and local regulations.  We specialize in helping your industry not only meet, but exceed, required guidelines and standards.  In addition, as part of our commitment to sustainability, we can work with you to improve the environment of your facility while contributing to a sustainable environment for everyone!

Please contact us at Environmental and Engineering Solutions or call us at 215-881-9401 to discuss your needs and how we can help meet them.

In part 4 of our healthcare series, which will post next Thursday, we’ll give you some tips for effective oversight during construction and remodeling in hospitals.

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