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WEST COAST'S FIRST HOSPITAL MICROWAVE UNIT TO DISINFECT MEDICAL WASTE INSTALLED AT UCI MEDICAL CENTER

 ORANGE, Calif., April 22 /PRNewswire/ -- UCI Medical Center in Orange, has installed a medical waste microwave disinfection unit that reduces waste volume, saves energy and disposal costs, without harming the environment. The unit is the first installed at a hospital on the West Coast.
 Thanks to a partnership between Southern California Edison and UCI, the medical center was able to replace its former steam sterilizer with the new technology, manufactured by ABB Sanitec Inc. of Wayne, N.J.
 Southern California Edisons?ignated the university hospital as a demonstration site for the microwave disinfection unit and also covered $150,000 of the $525,000 cost. UCI Medical Center will operate and maintain the system; SCE will analyze the unit's performance, energy consumption, maintenance and costs.
 The technology uses the same operating principle as a microwave oven for home use. Microwave energy heats the waste from inside and produces no harmful air or liquid emissions. Medical "red-bag" waste is fed into the unit and emptied into a hopper where grinders shred and moisten thm?aterials with steam. The shredded material is then conveyed through the microwave chamber where it is disinfected. When the process is complete, the treated material contains less bacteria than ordinary household waste, says Terry LaDow, the hospital's energy services manager.
 "Because of the unit's shredding feature, we can achieve an 80 percent volume reduction," adds LaDow. "The processed material, including needles and small sharps, comes out like confetti and is disposed of as routine waste in any landfill."
 UCI Medical Center generates more than 19 tons of normal and biohazardous waste per week, says LaDow. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that American hospitals generate more than 2.5 million tons of solid waste annually, of which 15 percent is infectious. By reducing the volume and hazard level of medical waste, UCI Medical Center officials believe the new microwave disposal method will benefit the health, safety and welfare of patients, employees and the community for years to come.
 The new technology also reduces costs. The medical center expects to save approximately $18,500 annually by switching from A steam sterilizer to microwave operation, says Deputy Executive Director Herb Spiwak. Most of the cost savings result from lowered disposal and transportation fees because of the reduced material bulk.
 The unit is designed to process 500 pounds of waste per hour. Currently, UCI Medical Center operates the system 7 to 8 hours a day, processing about 6,000 pounds daily of medical waste.
 At the time Edison began talks with UCI in 1991, there was only one unit in operation in the United States and several in Europe. Today, more than 16 ABB Sanitec Microwave Disinfection Systems are installed around the country, and the technology is approved for use in 33 states, according to the manufacturer.
 The university hospital has a history of installing high- efficiency, energy-saving equipment and taking advantage of rate options that have lowered the medical center's electric bill by more than $400,000 annually.
 "UCI Medical Center has an impressive track record in the area of energy efficiency," says Edison's Orange County Regional Manager Fred Mickelson. "The microwave unit is both energy efficient and environmentally sound. For the people of Southern California, this is a win-win situation."
 The microwave unit is the latest of many cooperative ventures between UCI and the Southland utility, which has become a regional leader in providing innovative solutions to energy efficiency and environmental problems. SCE provided funding for the microwave unit to test its energy efficiency and examine its environmental aspects, says program manager George Crane of Southern California Edison.
 Fact Sheet: Medical Waste Microwave Disinfection Unit
 -- Microwave disinfection of medical waste is an attractive solution to the medical waste disposal problem from an environmental standpoint. Since no combustion takes place, there are no harmful air emissions. In addition, the process uses no chemical or bleaching agents, therefore generating no liquid effluents.
 --The system keeps noise and odor to a minimum.
 --Shredding of the waste insures that the entire waste product is exposed to microwave disinfection, and it reduces the volume 80 percent. The needles and other small sharps included in medical waste are also shredded, rendering them harmless.
 --The ABB Sanitec Microwave Disinfection System is housed in a metal container 24 feet by nine feet by 10.5 feet easily placed at the hospital site.
 --Currently, 16 units are operating in the United States, and the process is approved for use in 33 states. The Medical Waste Microwave Disinfection System was originally developed in Germany and has become a proven technology in Europe.
 --Cost savings result from the reduced volume of waste that is transported to a landfill. UCI estimates an $18,500 annual savings in disposal and transportation fees.
 -0- 4/22/93
 /EDITORS NOTE: Photos of the unit are available upon request. Reporters and photographers are also welcome for a tour of the system./
 /CONTACT: Fran Tardiff of UCI Medical Center, 714-456-5496; or Ed Van Herik of Southern California Edison, 818-302-2255/


CO: UCI Medical Center; Southern California Edison ST: California IN: MTC SU:

EH -- LA029 -- 9531 04/22/93 13:52 EDT
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Date:Apr 22, 1993
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