The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has ordered the Monmouth-Ocean Hospital Corporation (MONOC) to stop applying disinfectants using a fogging system in ambulances.
The disinfection process identified in the order is not an approved use for any of the EPA-registered pesticides used by MONOC. This process breaks disinfectants down into micro-particles and can potentially make people ill. The EPA says it has reason to believe that some ambulance workers have already become ill as the result of MONOCs actions. The agency says it is taking this 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," says 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."
Prior to asking EPA to take over the case, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection issued a notice to Monmouth-Ocean Hospital Corporation informing them that they were in violation of pesticide law. According to information that EPA obtained through inspections and through the corporation itself, MONOC misapplied the disinfectant Zimek QD in ambulances using a fogger about 125 times, and misapplied the disinfectant Sporicidin in a similar manner at least one time.
EPAs order, issued to MONOC on Jan. 4, 2011, directed the company to stop applying any pesticide acquired from the manufacturer of the disinfection system in a manner inconsistent with its labeling. Disinfectants are considered pesticides because they are designed to kill microbiological organisms, known more widely as microbes. EPA registers all pesticides and as part of that process, any product containing pesticides must have an EPA-approved label that contains detailed application instructions.
The Monmouth Ocean Hospital Service Corporation is a non-profit company comprised of fifteen hospitals throughout New Jersey. The company operates more than 100 ambulances.
For more information about pesticides regulations, visit www.epa.gov/pesticides .