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EPA Issues STOP USE of ZIMEK Disinfecting Products

January 7, 2011 – The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a stop use and sale of the micro-misting disinfecting technology sold by Zimek Technologies.

EPA Region 2 has ordered a New Jersey ambulance company, Monmouth-Ocean Hospital Service Corporation (MONOC) to immediately stop the use of the toxic micro-misting of their ambulances with disinfectants acquired from Zimek Technologies and the Zimek Micro-Misting System. This device is used by MONOC to deliver disinfectants to the interior of ambulances as micron or submicron sized particles. EPA’s enforcement action came as a result of a formal complaint to the EPA by IAFF Local 4610, the Professional Emergency Services Association of New Jersey, on behalf of its exposed brothers and sisters.

The attached “Stop Use, Sale, or Removal Order” was issued to Vincent Robbins, president and CEO of MONOC by Dr. Adrian J. Enache, director of EPA’s Pesticides Program, Pesticides and Toxic Substances Branch in Edison, New Jersey. The order is effective immediately, and gives MONOC 10 days to provide written documentation to the EPA that it has stopped the misuses cited and have secured the Zimek machines and disinfectants.

The IAFF has contacted EPA and has confirmed with Dr. Enache that this action applies to ALL uses of the Zimek Micro-Misting Systems, whether they are used in ambulances, fire apparatus, fire stations or other vehicles and facilities. Accordingly, the IAFF is advising all affiliates to ensure that their department ceases the use of this technology and product.

The order states that the disinfectants that have been used in the MONOC ambulances are likely to cause harm to humans when applied using the Zimek system. The order also states that EPA has reason to believe that individuals working in MONOC ambulances in which disinfectants were applied have become ill and treated for pesticide poisoning.

The Local 4610 President Deborah Ehling has been actively driving this issue to protect her members. This is a clear victory for her long hours and determined efforts. President Ehling states that it is “now time for a national standard requiring the evaluation of chemicals used in the workplace with new technology to ensure safe use by our emergency medical personnel and fire fighters.”

A related investigation of MONOC by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is still ongoing. This effort was also initiated by a Local 4610 formal complaint on behalf of its members. Don Marino, president of the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey, has been working with President Ehling and her local to ensure that OSHA and the New Jersey Public Employee Occupational Safety and Health Program (PEOSH) completes these investigations for the protection of all members.

Disinfectants used for decontaminating equipment must be EPA-registered hospital disinfectant chemical germicides that have been documented as effective against the infectious agent and MUST be used as they were approved by EPA.

Care also must be taken in the use of any disinfectants. IAFF members should be aware of the flammability and reactivity of disinfectants and should follow manufacturer’s instructions for use (e.g., contact time and temperature). Disinfectants should only be used with adequate ventilation and while wearing appropriate infection control garments and equipment for cleaning and disinfecting, including eye protection, gloves, and aprons. It also is important when disinfecting equipment to check with the manufacturer of the germicide to determine compatibility of the medical equipment and protective clothing with the disinfectant.

The IAFF will continue to monitor and participate in this effort and will provide updates as they evolve.

For an update on this article, click here.

 


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