Medical Waste and Incinerators. Medical waste, also known as healthcare waste or biomedical waste, refers to any waste generated during healthcare activities such as hospitals, clinics, laboratories, and other facilities that are involved in the diagnosis, treatment, or immunization of humans or animals. Medical waste can be hazardous due to its potential to spread infectious diseases, cause injury or illness to healthcare workers, and damage the environment. Therefore, the regulation of medical waste is of utmost importance to protect public health and the environment.
Before the regulation of medical waste, medical facilities often disposed of medical waste in the same manner as regular municipal waste. This practice posed significant risks to public health and the environment, as it allowed for the potential spread of infectious diseases and contamination of water and air. As a result, regulatory bodies like the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established regulations to manage medical waste.
In 1988, the Medical Waste Tracking Act (MWTA) was passed in response to concerns over the proper management and disposal of medical waste. The purpose of the MWTA was to regulate the tracking and management of medical waste from the point of origin to final disposal, in an effort to reduce the amount of hazardous waste that was improperly managed.
The MWTA required medical facilities to maintain records of their waste management practices and the quantity of waste generated. They also had to track the waste from its point of origin to its final destination, including any transporters and disposal facilities used. The act mandated that medical waste be treated in a way that minimized the risk of spreading infectious diseases and posed no harm to public health or the environment.
The MWTA also aimed to reduce illegal dumping of medical waste, which had been a growing problem before the act was implemented. The tracking and reporting requirements of the act helped to identify any gaps in the waste management system and address them.
Incineration was a common method of medical waste disposal before the regulation of medical waste. In 1994, the Environmental Protection Agency released a report that found that incinerators used by many hospitals throughout the United States were a top emitter of harmful air pollutants, including mercury and dioxin. This finding led to increased scrutiny of incineration as a disposal method and led to the development of alternative methods for the treatment and disposal of medical waste.
The report also led to a decrease in the number of incinerators used for medical waste disposal in the United States. In 1990, there were around 5,200 medical waste incinerators in use. By 2007, the number had dropped to just 88. This decrease was due to the development of alternative treatment methods, such as autoclaving and chemical treatment, that were less harmful to the environment and public health.
In addition to the EPA’s regulations, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) established standards for the handling and disposal of medical waste to protect healthcare workers from exposure to infectious agents. The OSHA standards require medical facilities to develop written exposure control plans, provide training to employees, and use personal protective equipment when handling medical waste.
Over time, the EPA and OSHA regulations have been revised and strengthened to address new and emerging issues related to medical waste. For example, in 1991, the EPA developed regulations for the treatment of medical waste through a process called autoclaving, which involves using high-pressure steam to sterilize waste before disposal. This process has since become a standard practice in the management of medical waste.
Today, medical waste management is highly regulated, and compliance with federal, state, and local regulations is mandatory. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in fines, legal action, and damage to the environment and public health. Medical facilities must develop and implement comprehensive waste management plans that address all aspects of waste generation, segregation, transportation, treatment, and disposal.
While the MWTA aimed to reduce the risks associated with medical waste, it is also essential to consider the environmental impact of medical waste management. Bio-MED medical waste management is a company that offers comprehensive waste management services while prioritizing environmental responsibility.
Bio-MED medical waste management uses an all-electric medical waste transport truck, which reduces air pollution and carbon emissions. Additionally, Bio-MED owns and operates its own medical waste processing plant, which utilizes an autoclave for waste treatment. The autoclave is an environmentally friendly method of waste treatment that uses high-pressure steam to sterilize waste before disposal. By owning and operating our own plant, we are able to ensure that our waste management practices meet or exceed regulatory requirements, and we have complete control over the waste management process.
The benefits of working with Bio-MED medical waste management include not only regulatory compliance but also environmental responsibility. By using an all-electric transport truck and an autoclave for waste treatment, we minimize our carbon footprint and reduce air pollution. Additionally, our comprehensive waste management services ensure that our clients can focus on their core activities while we handle their waste management needs.
Join Thousands of Other Businesses Working with Bio-MED