Various healthcare organizations in the United States produce large volumes of medical waste every day. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the estimated medical waste per year is 6 million tons.
Although only around 15 percent of those medical wastes could be toxic, hazardous, or infectious, that’s still a lot. Numerically, 15 percent of 6 million tons would be approximately 81,646,626,6000 kilograms of biohazard waste annually.
All this waste can cause infection or contamination to humans, animals, and the environment due to carrying potentially infectious agents.
Considering the high level of risk medical wastes pose and strictly enforced state/federal regulations to store and dispose them of requires an efficient waste management process. This is why there has been an increasing demand for professional medical waste management services.
By hiring a reputable and local medical waste disposals company, healthcare facilities can safely dispose of biohazardous waste. Here are some of the safest ways.
One of the most critical aspects of handling medical waste is to ensure the proper and safe storage of biohazardous materials to avoid any accidental exposure to your patients, employees, and people who visit your facility.
Materials that fall in the category of biohazardous waste require separate storage from regular waste. Some of the items in the medical waste category are below:
All healthcare facilities need to collect and store sharps in an OSHA/FDA-approved sharps container.
Additionally, a licensed medical waste disposal company should empty the container and pick up all the biohazardous materials for safe disposal. It is crucial not to overfill sharps containers because it could result in accidental exposure and potentially infect humans and animals.
You can store other categories of biohazardous waste in red bags that are designed for this purpose. Your medical waste disposal service provider should be able to supply red bags for your health facility.
The red bags are placed within a waste container and marked with a specific biohazard symbol. Medical waste that does not fall into the category of sharps should be collected in red bags.
Autoclaving is one of the most efficient ways to dispose of biohazard wastes. The process uses heated steam to sterilize and destroy all the microorganisms in the waste. Nearly 90 percent of biohazard waste is destroyed using either the autoclaving or incineration process.
The incineration process is about burning medical waste. Medical incinerators have been designed to safely dispose of all biohazardous materials. Initially, the waste is put inside a primary chamber that could get as hot as 2,000 degrees.
Subsequently, the gases go through a secondary chamber that keeps the gases for a little over a couple of seconds. Then it passes through several pollution control systems. This method ensures there is no emission of harmful gases to impact the environment when the process is over.
Certain categories of biohazard waste like animal wastes can be disinfected chemically. Later, the waste gets dumped in a landfill, and it does not pose any risk of spreading infections.
Medical waste known as sharps needs special precautions while handling. Sharps usually have objects than can easily poke, tear, puncture, and accidentally spread infection.
All the sharp medical wastes are required encapsulation in a properly labeled, puncture-resistant container and placed in the designated spots for dumping in a landfill.
The microwave radiation or irradiation sterilization process is about using a heat source to disinfect biohazard waste and sewage sludge.
This method works effectively using cobalt, which has gamma radiation. The waste is then heated to destroy and neutralize all the microbes.
It could be an expensive method due to the high cost of cobalt and not ideal for commercial operations.
It is possible to dispose of some specific categories of wastes through recycling. Although most hazardous materials are segmented as “medical” and go through specific disposal procedures, a few other items found in medical and research facilities can be recycled.
Some of those items are:
Although the listed items may seem harmless, they can also spread infections if not handled carefully. For recycling, an experienced medical waste disposal company should sort out and remove them safely.
We have already seen from the statistics in the beginning that healthcare facilities in the US produce massive volumes of hazardous medical wastes every year. Handling, storing, and disposing of all these wastes require an efficient method to prevent infections. Hiring a local and well-known medical waste management company is an effective strategy to dispose of the waste.
DMI Solutions offers a full range of medical waste disposal services to healthcare facilities of different sizes and shapes. Besides collecting, storing, transporting, and disposing of medical waste, our team imparts compliance training and OSHAA office training to employees of healthcare organizations.
Give us a call at +1 800-455-7747 for more details. You can also drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will get back to you soon.
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