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A Quick Look on How to Manage Infectious Hospital Waste

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Infectious hospital waste may vary from pharmaceuticals, blood samples, body fluids, tissues, cultures, and stocks of infectious agents to radioactive waste used to investigate cysts and tumors.

A popular way to dispose of infectious waste is by incineration. Still, most handlers and facilities today chose alternative methods like the non-incineration methods to lessen the negative impact on the environment.

Here are some examples of non-incineration waste management methods that offer lower environmental pollution emissions:

1.    Thermal technology
The heat from sources like microwave, steam, frictional heating, electrothermal and dry heating is used to treat infectious waste below 180 degrees C so that it does not cause a physical or chemical change. This kind of waste disposal does not release pollutants into the environment.
2.    Chemical method
The chemicals commonly used for this treatment include sodium hypochlorite, calcium hypochlorite, and chlorine dioxide. These chemicals are mixed with crushed hospital waste, which inactivates infectious microorganisms while they decompose.
3.    Biological
Waste materials are placed into pits, and the process uses biodigesters to induce the decomposition of pathological waste. Vermiculture is also used to help the decay of delicate items like bandages.
4.    Irradiative technologies
Infectious materials are exposed to either gamma rays, radioactive isotopes of cobalt, Ultraviolet lights, or electron beams to kill bacteria before dumping the waste properly to decompose.  
5.    Autoclaving
It uses steam to disinfect waste materials between temperatures of 121-134 degrees C and to sterilize equipment used in surgery. This method allows waste to be recycled or disposed of later for safety.

A standard waste management system should be in place for any healthcare facility, especially those accommodating hundreds of patients and conducting various and complicated medical procedures.