The proper disposal of regulated medical waste is one of the most pressing, yet least talked about, sanitation aspects of our modern society. Hundreds of thousands of pounds of regulated medical waste is properly disposed of every year in the United States, and as new technology continues to adopt offering clean and safe medical waste removal, regulated medical waste will continue to be disposed of in a neat and virtually silent fashion.
That being said, the system of waste disposal (especially medical) is not yet flawless, and a few medical waste management (or lack thereof) issues have recently developed and been in the news, highlighting the importance of a state of the art, environmentally safe solution to medical waste removal. Providence Alaska Medical Center, a hospital located in Anchorage, Alaska, was recently prohibited and temporarily suspended from using the city's community landfill as punishment for illegally dumping regulated medical waste in it.
The city landfill, which receives on average 1,400 tons of trash daily, requires those permitted to dump be randomly inspected from time to time. Sometime near the end of September, a garbage load from the hospital being randomly inspected revealed a plethora of medical materials, including (but not limited to) used needles, intravenous tubes, and blood-soaked gauze. These materials should have been either incinerated or sterilized, but instead were sent to the city dump.
Because of the ban, the hospital was forced to have its medical waste management company deal with all of their waste, both medical and non-medical, which cost the hospital tens of thousands of dollars.
They are dealing with a similar situation in Welkom, South Africa, where 18,600 tons of regulated medical waste had to be removed from four separate illegal dumping sites. According to published reports, the regulated medical waste had been buried in trenches and ditches varying from one-and-a-half meters to nearly six.
Thankfully, the clean-up has now been deemed environmentally compliant with typical clean-up standards by two separate independent environmental experts, as well as the Green Scorpions, another environmental inspection company.
However, the whole ordeal has shown how poorly South Africa disposes of their regulated medical waste. According to private safety and health expert Dave Marock "more waste is being collected (in the cleanup) than legally treated." Marock was one of the individuals responsible for inspecting the illegal dumping site following its clean-up.
It's events like these, from as north as Alaska to the most southern point of the African continent, that show our society is not across-the-board on the same page as far as medical waste management. But as we previously mentioned, as technology and medical waste removal methods continue to advance, hopefully the proper precautions will always be taken in the future.
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Article Added on Sunday, November 14, 2010
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