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EPA Orders Ambulance Company Stop Spraying Pesticide In Ambulances


January 13, 2011 – EPA has ordered the 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 the Professional Emergency Services Association of New Jersey (IAFF Local 4610), on behalf of its exposed members.


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 have asked their members to be cognizant 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 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. EPA has reason to believe that some ambulance workers have already become ill as the result of MONOC’s actions. The Agency 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,” 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.” 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 1 time. EPA’s order, issued to MONOC on January 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.

What are the potential health effects of pesticides? The health effects of pesticides depend on the type of pesticide. Some, such as the organophosphates and carbamates, affect the nervous system. Others may irritate the skin or eyes. Some pesticides may be carcinogens. Others may affect the hormone or endocrine system in the body. EPA's human health risk assessments for many pesticides are available on the web. 

How does EPA determine what the effects of pesticides on humans are and whether they are acceptable? A major consideration in approving pesticides for use is whether they pose an unreasonable risk to humans. EPA assesses risks associated with individual pesticide active ingredients, as well as with groups of pesticides that have a common toxic effect. This latter assessment is called cumulative risk assessment and is designed to evaluate the risk associated with exposure at one time to multiple pesticides that act the same way in the body.


Part of EPA's assessment of health risks of pesticides is a determination that there is "reasonable certainty of no harm" posed by pesticide residues allowed to remain on food. Before approving a pesticide, EPA sets limits on how the pesticide may be used, how often it may be used, what protective clothing or equipment must be used, and so on. These limits are designed to protect public health and the environment. 

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.

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