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Is Medical Waste A Big Issue


Medical waste is any waste that is produced by medical or healthcare workers in a hospital, dentists, and laboratories. Medical wastes have become a big issue because of the coronavirus pandemic. The cases are increasing rapidly infected from coronaviruses. Garbage contaminated with infectious bodily fluid is becoming a bigger concern for hospitals as they are treating patients sick with coronaviruses. In hospital patients and medical workers are quickly using medical supplies and disposable personal protective stuff. In the end, all that used stuff piles up as medical waste that needs to be discarded safely. In coronaviruses pandemic, we didn’t just need to build new hospitals but we have to construct a new medical waste plan. According to Stericycle, they are handling more than 1.8 billion medical waste in 2018. The total amount of medical waste that a hospital usually generates, about 85% is non-hazardous waste. The remaining 15% is considered hazardous waste. Hazardous waste can be infectious, toxic, and radioactive. About 16 billion injections are discharged every year.

Types of waste;

Non-hazardous waste

This type of waste does not cause any particular biomedical, chemical, radioactive, or physical danger,

Infectious waste

Waste contaminated with infectious blood and other bodily fluids. This hazardous waste may cause human disease. The waste can spread viruses, bacteria, and other things that pose health risks. The hazardous material may be infected, toxic, or radioactive.

Pathological waste

A type of biohazard waste that is contaminated with any type of infectious fluid, including blood. This type of waste generally originated from tissues and samples of tissues that are examined in a laboratory to diagnose a disease issue.

Sharp waste

A type of waste that is used to puncture or lacerate the skin. Sharp waste is classified as biohazard waste. Common medical sharp wastes are needles, disposable scalpels, and blades that are contaminated with infectious fluid. The sharp waste must be eliminated carefully.

Medical Waste A Big Issue
Medical Waste A Big Issue

Chemical waste

A type of waste that is made from harmful chemicals. Chemical waste contains radioactive elements poses a particularly difficult problem. Radioactive elements are widespread in the material of the earth’s crust and living tissues of plants and animals. Chemical waste includes solvents and reagents used for laboratory preparations, disinfectant, and sterilants. Some heavy chemical substances are included in medical devices such as mercury in thermometers and batteries.

Cytotoxic waste 

A type of highly hazardous substances that is mutagenic, teratogenic, and carcinogenic. Chemical cytotoxic waste contains genotoxic properties such as cytotoxic drugs used in cancer treatment and their metabolites.   

Radioactive waste

A type of waste that is usually used for radiation therapy. Radioactive waste includes syringes, contaminated gloves, cotton swabs, vials and absorbs the material. Many radioactive materials used inside the body have very short half-lives. Doctors prefer fast –decaying isotopes to avoid the effects of radioactive waste.

Pharmaceutical waste

pharmaceutical waste is a type of waste that carries expired medicine, medicinal drugs, and unused, contaminated damaged, or no longer needed. It also includes vaccines. Pharmaceutical waste is discarded very carefully because of its dangerous nature.

Anatomical waste

It is a subtype of pathological waste. It includes everything from, donated blood, tissues used for testing or to remove the disease. Some of this waste may not be harmful like placentas from healthy mothers or expired bodies. But its status is unknown yet.


1. All big and small hospitals are producing medical waste rapidly.

2. Laboratories and research centers are generating infectious waste while performing testing activities.

3. Blood donating banks producing anatomical waste and collection services too.

4. Animal research centers

5. A morgue is also a source of medical waste.

6. Nursing home causes medical waste as they do medical research to increase their knowledge.   

7.  Medicals universities and colleges

Medical waste is generally generated in third-world countries at an average rate (0.2kg) per hospital per day. But developed countries generate (0.5) medical waste per day per hospital.

Impact on the environment

Medical waste not only infect doctors, patients, medical workers but also the general public as it accommodates harmful microorganism. These microorganisms can spread from health centers to the environment. People may get sharp infected injuries. Chemical waste burns for disinfection, sterilization, and wastage treatment but it arising air pollution. If the medical waste is not disposed of properly it may pose several health risks. If the medical waste is burnt it can release chemicals substances into the environment. Improper segregation of medical waste can contaminate groundwater sources which may infect humans and animals. Radioactive particles produced with diagnostic technologies can harm people through the environment as its particles are released into the air rapidly. 

Sharp injury incidents are increasing day by day because of improper medical waste.

Management and treatment of medical waste

It requires attention and diligence to avoid medical waste issues. Proper segregation requires reducing the volume of waste generation. Developing strategies and regulate disposal can improve waste segregation activity. It is a long-tern process that may take place gradually. WHO developed a short guideline for the safe management of medical waste that has various key elements. But the lack of awareness about medical waste issues and hazards related to health is why people do not care about it. We have a poor disposable system. Insufficient human and financial resources are feeding the problems of medical waste issues. Many developing countries do not know the appropriate regulations.

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