Health for the Environment

Medical waste disposal is one of the biggest challenges encountered by every health care provider on a daily basis. The proper management of which is crucial to positively prevent the hazards of spreading infectious diseases and pollution causing affliction to humanity, wildlife, and the environment. 

Medical and biohazardous wastes are potentially contaminated by-products of medical research, diagnostics, and treatments or other activities pertaining to health care. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) identifies the most common waste categories as:

  1. Sharps – include anything that is capable of piercing the skin

Example: needle, lancet, scalpel, broken glass

  1. Infectious Wastes – infectious or potentially infectious materials 

Example: equipment or medical supplies contaminated by human or animal body tissues or fluids

  1. Radioactive – radionuclide-contaminated products including radioactive diagnostic or radiotherapeutic materials 
  2. Pathological – body tissues or fluids that were extracted from humans or animals 

Example: blood, body parts, animal carcasses 

  1. Pharmaceuticals – all medications and vaccines in any form that was unused, expired or contaminated 
  2. Chemical – solutions, solvents or disinfectants used or derived from laboratory procedures; batteries or heavy metals from medical and surgical equipment 
  3. Genotoxic Waste – the most hazardous of the medical wastes, they may be carcinogenic, teratogenic (may cause congenital abnormalities) or metagenic (may cause alterations in generations or heterogenesis)
  4. Non-Hazardous Waste or General Non-Regulated Medical Waste – those that have not been proven to pose any specific physical, chemical, biological or radioactive hazards 

The Hazards of Medical Waste 

Unless adequately managed, medical wastes carry latent harmful microorganisms that can infect hospital patients, health professionals, and the general public. Other inherent risks include drug-resistant microorganisms and air or water pollution which can spread from health facilities to the environment. 

Other negative health effects associated with improper medical and biohazard waste disposal include:

  • sharps-inflicted trauma 
  • exposure to toxic products ranging from infectious and pharmacological to radioactive 
  • air and water pollution 
  • burns from physical contact with chemicals or radioactive products 

Medical Waste Handling Safety Guidelines 

Medical and biohazard waste concerns can be prevented by complying with the following major disciplines:

 

  1. Health professionals should be familiar with the Healthcare Waste Laws – it is critical to know and abide by all the guidelines from each government agency when handling hazardous waste 
  2. Medical waste classification – identify and classify the kinds of waste to be dealt with for proper disposal 
  3. Medical waste segregation by categories – categorize and segregate waste into their particular container ready for disposal 
  4. Use appropriate waste containers – it is important to be fastidious in using only the correct and specialized container for every waste category 
  5. Secure waste containers suitably – the right way of storing and shipping waste containers should be followed to prevent them from contaminating other objects 
  6. Document and label the containers correspondingly – specified tagging of the containers prevents confusion and mix-up 
  7. Hire a reputable and trustworthy waste disposal company – wisely choose a Daniels Health North Dakota medical and biohazardous waste disposal and be secure in the fact that your medical wastes are strictly and safely handled and disposed of posing no risk to lives or the environment. 

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