Medical waste, also known as healthcare risk waste, is the waste generated during the process of medical procedures. The waste can be produced during any process! It could be diagnosis, treatment, or immunization of human beings or animals, that results in many medical waste.
Any waste produced by medical facilities is medical waste. Medical waste is one of the riskiest wastes concerning the rising issue. It includes waste materials like needles, syringes, contaminated gloves, blood-soaked bandages, and more.
When medical waste is not properly disposed of, it affects the environment and health of human beings, leading to other health hazards.In this article, we aim to reflect on the importance of proper medical disposal. We want to bring your attention into understanding the health hazard regarding medical waste and what can be done! Understanding the importance of proper medical waste disposal is a must in order to prevent infections, diseases, and other environmental hazards.
Here, we will learn about the issues surrounding medical waste and the risk factor. Further, we will learn about illegal dumping and some effective strategies for medical waste disposal. Let’s start with the types of medical waste!
Different Types of Medical Waste
Before getting into the nitty-gritty of medical waste disposal, let’s first understand the types of medical waste. Depending upon the risk, waste can be classified into various categories, with each posting unique hazards and requiring a special medical waste disposal method.
- Sharp waste: It is a kind of medical waste that is sharp and can injure other individuals if proper disposal is not done. It includes needles, syringes, and scalpels. Further, it can also spread infections.
- Infectious waste: They are wastes like blood, bodily fluids, laboratory specimens, and others. These types of waste can transmit pathogens and cause or transmit various diseases.
- Pathological waste: These types of waste include tissues, organs, and body parts. They might harbor infectious agents. During medical waste disposal, these types of waste are taken care of.
- Pharmaceutical waste: It includes expired or unused drugs or vaccines. They can contribute to environmental toxicity.
- Chemical waste: It includes disinfectants, solvents, and heavy metals. They cause burns and poisoning.
- Radioactive waste: They are the result of materials resulting from radiotherapy. It had contaminated equipment that posed the risk of radiant exposure.
These are a few among the types of medical waste. Few other medical wastes encompass contaminated gloves, gowns, masks, used bandages, dressings, and surgical instruments.
It’s important that there is proper management of these waste types to prevent adverse effects on the environment and health.
What is Improper Medical Waste Disposal?
Improper medical waste disposal is a widespread issue around all the health services that pose threats to other individuals and the environment. When healthcare facilities are not cautious about waste and use common methods for all kinds of waste, like discarding it in regular trash or burning it in open fires or without proper controls, it adds up to health hazards.
Earlier in the article, we mentioned the types of waste.
Depending upon the type of medical waste, there are medical waste disposal methods available. However, the health care system isn’t efficient in implementing those methods, and hence, it implements the common method, causing improper waste management.
A flushing of medical waste, like bodily fluid, can lead to water contamination while disposing of it in a regular trash can puts workers’ and public health lives at risk.
Medical waste without abatement can release toxic fumes and pollute the air. A lack of awareness is a leading factor in improper medical waste disposal. Further, even if they are ware, there are very limited disposal facilities available. But, whatever the reason, when the wastes are not disposed of the correct way, they cause harm to the environment and people.
Illegal Dumping of Medical Waste
Yet another concerning issue surrounding medical waste is illegal dumping. It refers to the unauthorized disposal of waste in areas where there is no permission for waste disposal.
The reasons for illegal dumping are ignorance of regulation, avoidance of disposal fees, and limited enforcement of medical waste disposal laws. You must have seen many instances of illegal waste dumping making headlines in recent years. Hazardous medical wastes like needles and contaminated materials are being dumped in public spaces like parks and beaches, keeping everyone’s life at risk. It’s important to address the issue of illegal dumping. Some effective ways could be increasing awareness among everyone, implementing stricter rules and regulations for waste dumps, and making efforts to deter those who practice illegal dumping.
Risks of Medical Waste
We can’t reflect enough on the adverse effects of improper medical waste disposal.
There are numerous and far-reaching consequences of medical waste. It can lead to various infections and diseases like hepatitis B, hepatitis C, HIV, and more. Respiratory organs are also contaminated with medical waste. Further, sharp waste like needles and sharp objects presents significant hazards like injuries and cuts when the workers are unaware of it. These results disrupt the aquatic ecosystem and pose a risk to human health.
Implementing Proper Medical Waste Disposal
The rising concern of medical waste raises the concern surrounding proper medical waste disposal. There are some effective strategies for the proper management of these wastes.
By implementing the strategies, there can be proper waste management. One key approach is raising awareness and educating people about the harmful effects of medical waste. Individuals and health care providers must have a correct idea about the handling of waste, separating it or its types, and disposing of it accordingly. The awareness can include information on the risks associated with improper medical waste disposal and why it’s important to implement rules and regulations. Strict rules can further help to ensure that the practices are held to a high standard. And whoever goes against the rule faces penalties. It’s also favorable to invest in accessible disposal facilities like incinerators and microwave systems that can facilitate proper waste management. Recycling is a sustainable method to manage medical waste. It helps reduce the overall volume of medical waste and create something new through it. It also further leads to a healthy environment.
Medical waste disposal is a rising issue and raises concerns about health measures and the environment. There have been many cases on how it has impacted the environment and health of an individual. In order to maintain a healthy environment, it’s important for everyone to understand the risks associated with medical waste and how it can affect the environment. Medical waste is not regular waste! It requires proper segregation depending upon its type and a correct method to dispose of it. For example, like we mentioned before, sharp medical waste is disposed of differently than infectious waste. We hope this article was helpful for you to understand the impact of improper medical waste disposal. We have also suggested some effective strategies!