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Thermally Stable Plastics

Volume 165: debated on Wednesday 17 January 1990

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:To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) what are the products of combustion from thermally stable plastics used in the medical industry during combustion in hospital-type incinerators;(2) what studies have been carried out by his Department of the problems experienced by the combustion of plastic clinical waste in hospital incinerators within the United Kingdom;(3) whether there is a requirement placed upon the suppliers of thermally stable plastics to provide a thermal analysis of their products to enable the combustion characteristics of such plastics to be understood.

[holding answer 16 January 1990]: The products will include carbon dioxide and water and may include hydrochloric acid, hydrofluoric acid, sulphur dioxide, metal oxides and halides and a range of organic materials. Some of these chemicals may be removed from the exhaust gases by scrubbing equipment. Because the quantities of plastics used in the medical industry are increasing and the compositions are changing, my Department has placed a research contract with the Warren Spring Laboratory to study combustion of them. The chemical compositions of these plastics are well known and no purpose would be served by requiring suppliers to provide thermal analyses.