“As COVID-19 cases surge in some regions of the U.S., experts say the anticipated crush of medical waste has not occurred.
These days, most medical waste is shipped from hospitals to autoclaves, where “hot steam kills all of the germs. It looks sort of like a soggy melty stuff,” Germain said. Then it’s transported to a landfill.
But a small percentage of medical waste continues to be burned at incinerators, many located in Black and brown communities, releasing carcinogenic dioxins and furans into the air.
“Incinerators have gotten off the hook on so many issues and reporting requirements,” said Tim Whitehouse, a former EPA attorney, now the executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.”