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Common Chemicals Used for Hospital Waste Treatment

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Chemical disinfection works by deactivating dangerous microorganisms in liquids. If used on solid waste, waste shredding is needed to ensure the chemical’s maximum coverage. This allows liquid waste to be released as sewage and solid waste to be sent to landfills.

The use of chemical disinfectants depends on the type of microorganism they are intended for, the logistical capacity of the hospital, and the training of the personnel involved in the waste disposal.

1. Chlorine dioxide

Although an eye, skin, and respiratory tract irritant, chlorine is a widely used solution even in households. For medical waste, it is effective against a wide range of microorganisms.

2. Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is another familiar chemical that hospitals prefer because of its effectiveness against all types of microorganisms. It is effective on both solid and liquid waste, and most hospitals already have a standing protocol for storing and handling this compound.

3. Sodium hypochlorite

While this compound is just as effective as chlorine dioxide against most microorganisms, it cannot be used on blood and stool. More commonly, it is used to treat hospital sewage.

4. Glutaraldehyde

Glutaraldehyde is recommended only for setups with sufficient protective measures in place. Most of the time, its use is targeted at bacteria and parasite eggs. When done using, Glutaraldehyde waste should never be disposed of in sewers.

5. Ethylene oxide

Ethylene oxide used to be widely used because of its effectiveness against all microorganisms, but it is no longer recommended due to major health hazards. This compound is a carcinogen and is also an extreme irritant.

While chemical disinfection can pose serious health hazards, it is a popular option for hospitals that do not have access to other more sophisticated medical waste disposal methods or disposal services. In some cases, chemical disinfection is safer. It removes the possibility of leakages when transferring the liquid waste from the hospital to the disposal facility.