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Are N.J. ambulances making people sick? (1/17)

January 17, 2011
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Some New Jersey ambulance workers may have more to worry about than getting sick people to hospitals quickly. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a method one hospital system is using to disinfect ambulances could be making workers sick.

The EPA has ordered the Monmouth-Ocean Hospital Corporation (MONOC) to stop applying disinfectants using a fogging system in ambulances.

According to an EPA press release, this process breaks disinfectants down into micro particles and can potentially make people ill. The EPA has reason to believe that some ambulance workers have already become ill as the result of MONOC’s actions.

The fogging system is not approved for use with any of the EPA-registered pesticides used by MONOC. The Agency says it is taking the action to prevent “any further misuse of disinfectants by this company.”

“MONOC has been put on notice that what they were doing is not consistent with federal law,” said Judith Enck, EPA Regional Administrator. “A ride to a hospital should not include over exposure to pesticides. EPA has ordered the hospital to stop this practice immediately.” Disinfectants are considered pesticides because they are designed to kill microbiological organisms, known more widely as microbes.

The EPA was asked to take over the case by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection after the state agency issued a notice to Monmouth-Ocean Hospital Corporation informing them that they were in violation of pesticide law. The Monmouth Ocean Hospital Service operates more than 100 ambulances throughout New Jersey.

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