Question: Who’s in charge of preparing the state to respond appropriately and effectively to Ebola-related issues as they arise?
CDPH Response: CDPH works very closely with local health departments and California healthcare facilities to ensure that we identify novel diseases early on, conduct specialized laboratory testing of suspect cases, and limit potential spread of diseases. CDPH is in constant communication with local health departments throughout California. CDPH distributes Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and CDPH health alerts to local health departments and issues California specific guidance as necessary.
2) Question: What regulations the state is going to employ for the safe transport and disposal of Ebola-contaminated waste?
CDPH Response: Ebola contaminated waste is a Category A infectious agent, which must conform with the packaging and transportation requirements under the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). As a Category A infectious agent, capable of causing permanent disability or life threatening or fatal disease in otherwise healthy humans or animals exposed to it, it is not considered to be a regulated medical waste. Therefore, it cannot be transported by California registered medical waste haulers. The CDC and DOT recognize the conflict between the federal and state transportation requirements and are currently working to permanently resolve this issue.
Until a permanent solution is developed, a strategy being employed by facilities with large capacity sterilizers is to subject the Ebola contaminated waste to a pre-treatment process using steam sterilization prior to shipping the waste offsite for disposal. This effectively treats this waste stream to allow medical waste haulers to transport and manage it as a regulated medical waste.
3) Question: Who would be in charge of enforcing these regulations?
CDPH Response: Unless Ebola contaminated waste is pre-treated through steam sterilization, the transportation of this waste is subject to DOT regulations. The California Highway Patrol would be the lead agency providing regulatory oversight of transportation on California highways.
4) Question: “I also still would like to know anything you can say about what seem to be on-going talks among CDC, DOT, EPA, and other interested parties to resolve the inconsistencies between CDC and DOT waste disposal regulations.”
CDPH Response: CDPH has no updates to report. As noted above, the CDC and DOT recognize the conflict between the federal and state transportation requirements and are currently working to permanently resolve this issue. Contact the CDC, DOT and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.