Medical and Biohazardous Waste: Understanding the Whys and Hows of Proper Disposal
The issue of waste disposal has never been as critical as it is now, especially with landfills filling up and the ocean littered with mountains of plastic. There’s also a stricter need now for medical waste to be managed properly and effectively.
Hospitals and other healthcare facilities are mandated to train their employees on the various types of waste and the different disposal methods. Aside from the usual segregation of biodegradable and non-biodegradable items, these facilities also have to consider how to secure medical waste. While regulated medical waste services are the ones to dispose of these materials, it’s still essential that everyone has a clear understanding of what they’re facing.
What’s the Difference?
It’s the hard truth that not all waste are created equal. For instance, hazardous and biohazardous waste are both dangerous but they’re two different things and should be treated as such.
Biohazardous waste also goes by the name of infectious waste. Various industries also call it medical waste, infective waste, biological waste, or red bag waste. This type of waste can be in solid or liquid form. It constitutes dry waste like contaminated personal protective equipment (PPE), pipettes, glassware, and sharps. Meanwhile, liquid waste ranges from blood, body fluids to virus and bacteria.
On the other hand, medical waste is the bandages, empty containers, dried blood, and other items that aren’t biohazardous. While they’re typically solid, medical waste can’t just be thrown in regular garbage bins.
Why Proper Disposal is Important
Regulated medical waste services are strictly monitored and have to abide by a lot of strongly enforced regulations. There are several reasons for this, like:
It places medical personnel at risk: These types of waste can place workers at risk of contracting diseases like HIV, hepatitis, Ebola, malaria, syphilis, etc. These diseases can affect a person for years. For some, it could even be a death sentence.
The community can be contaminated: Medical wastes that are dumped on landfills pose an immediate danger to the area. The harmful substances it carries will leach down into the soil or water or be exposed to air. Most biohazardous wastes can survive for years or take thousands of years to break down.
It affects the whole population. As these wastes reach oceans or the soil, toxins will be absorbed by the plants and animals in the food chain and can lead to mutations, birth defects, cancer, and other deadly diseases.
How to Dispose of Properly
The impact of hospital waste emphasizes how crucial it is to have the right company to handle its disposal. Getting rid of these wastes generally entails three important steps –
Correct Identification: Hospital staff should be able to differentiate between medical and biohazardous waste and its normal counterpart. This is because the latter two have to undergo several processes before they can be sent to landfills.
Appropriate Storage: Once the sanctioned biohazard waste receptacle is full, it has to be placed in another container before it can be transported. This is to ensure compliance with the law and to prevent leaks or spills.
Proper Disposal: This is reportedly the easiest part as regulated medical waste services will pick the containers up. It will then be delivered to a processing center or to a sanitary landfill.
Knowledge, proper training and the right company can ensure that medical and biohazardous waste disposal in Kansas is done properly. Each one, from the hospital personnel to the waste disposal unit, should take their responsibilities seriously for everybody’s protection.