Health threats due to untreated medical waste

Environment Health Top story

The untreated bio-medical waste is posing as a health hazard in the hospitals of Bengaluru.

Bengaluru is observing an increase in the viral infections caused by improper treatment of bio-medical waste in the hospitals since last three months.

A nurse at the Victoria Hospital in Bengaluru said, We can see the medical waste lying outside of the patient’s room and hospital sometimes, especially during morning,  It has a foul smell and it is dangerous for the patients too because it is so close to the wards and operation theatres.”

A doctor at the Victoria Hospital said that the  cases of cholera, diarrhea and common flu are risingHe said there is a high risk of waterborne and airborne diseases due to untreated bio-medical waste like used syringes, traces of blood samples and unattended medical tapes used to cover and heal the wounds especially burns.

There is over 80000  kilos of waste generated in the hospitals of Bangalore city, out of which 50000 kilos is treated on a daily basis. About 37 percent of biomedical waste remains untreated by hospital facilities.

The guidelines of Bio-Medical Waste (Management and Handling) say that the biomedical waste cannot be mixed with municipal waste. Those who are involved in the treatment of biomedical waste also have to wear special equipment. The pre-treated laboratory waste, blood waste and microbiological waste are sent to a common place where all the waste is treated.

Doctors said that failing to segregate biomedical waste if mixed with common or municipal waste is the major issue as the biomedical waste will end up in mixed landfills. “In addition to it, due to irresponsible staff, the waste is kept in hospital premises for hours which increase the rate of infections,” they added.

Srinath MK, vice president of Maridi Bio Industries Pvt. Ltd, a medical waste disposal company said, “The main problem in hospitals is the irresponsible staff who fails to segregate waste.  Segregation of medical waste is very important because biomedical waste is the most hazardous waste. The hospital  staff keeps on changing therefore they do not get enough training for waste segregation. If the waste does not get segregated properly, especially the syringes and needles, it can cause health hazards for the staff as well”.

He said that in some hospitals, the guidelines are not followed. The hospital lacks staff who are responsible for disposing of the  biomedical waste. “The hospital does not have tight-sealed trolleys to carry waste from the hospital premises, therefore the segregated waste gets mixed,” he added.

Dr. Suman, assistant professor of the medical community of Ramaiah Medical College said, “The waste management should be carried out by properly trained staff. The temperature of the burners should be inspected and the chimneys which are used as vents must have filters that are harmless to the environment.” She added, “The incinerator and autoclaves should be at proper temperatures as stated by the guidelines. The drugs and other products should be bought only if they have a green certificate. ”

The expert says that it is not only important to reduce the impact it has on the environment, but also the neglected health issues that arise from the toxins that are not disposed of properly.

Regular inspections and audits should be conducted by the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) to keep check on almost 4000 hospitals that come under Maridi. The hospitals will be penalized if they fail to follow the guidelines to treat the bio-medical waste.


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