Fueling fears of the public about medical waste are such concerns as the hypothetical risk of medical waste for transmitting HIV, HBV, and other agents associated with bloodborne diseases. The public is also concerned about emissions from incinerators that burn medical waste and whether these emissions may contain microorganisms or toxic substances. Thus, a lack of understanding of the modes of transmission of agents associated with bloodborne diseases, the fear of fatal diseases such as AIDS, and a distrust of healthcare facilities accentuated by media coverage has led to intense public pressure on federal, state, and local politicians to regulate medical waste.

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