You are at Toxics Alert > Report > Hospitals generate 127 tons of biomedical waste every year
Toxics Alert, an environment news bulletin from toxics link Toxics Link
Issue 45
, 2013
View issue number:
  Home  |  Editorial  |  Feature  |  Interview  |  News  |  Policy  |  Updates  |  Reports / International News  |  Partner


Hospitals generate 127 tons of biomedical waste every year

Source: Arab News, Date: , 2013

Hospitals in the Kingdom pump out 127 tons of biomedical waste annually, local media reported.There is also a 1.13-kg production rate of biomedical waste per bed per day and an average of 0.08 kg produced per visit at medical centers, Abdullah Asiri, director of infection control at the Ministry of Health, said.Biomedical waste consists of solids, liquids, sharp objects and laboratory waste that are potentially infectious or dangerous.

Disposal of biomedical waste remains a key goal for the Ministry of Health, which is making efforts to address the issue, notably in medical centers in remote areas.Penalties are imposed on private medical facilities if it becomes evident that they are throwing away medical waste arbitrarily. These penalties range from closure of the facility to the imposition of fines. For government-owned medical facilities, penalties will cover those responsible for negligence in accordance with regulations.

According to experts, biomedical waste is considered the most hazardous environmental pollutant if not properly managed, especially in the stages of separation, transport and processing. Human remnants are normally buried, while others are carefully burned using high-quality burners at temperatures reaching 1,200 degrees Celsius. Only trained personnel can deal with such waste, experts say.

Kamal Abu Rukba, manager at Musadiyya Maternal and Pediatrics Hospital in Jeddah, said the risks associated with medical waste are not limited to medical and janitorial staff, but extend to patients, visitors and those involved in waste collection and disposal.
He categorized medical waste into two major areas: Health hazards related to infectious diseases and radioactive cancer-causing and environmentally hazardous material, which leads to air, earth and water pollution.

Mohammed Halawani, a consultant in infection control and hospital epidemiology at the Health Department in Makkah, said trained personnel operated specialized vehicles fully equipped with safety devices to transport medical waste from government-owned and private hospitals. This waste goes to the processing center of a contracted company, where waste is processed based on approved technologies and measures.He said infections do not occur directly and spontaneously from biomedical waste unless a person is directly exposed to waste in the form of cotton, gauze and bedsheets that are clearly contaminated with blood or body fluids.

However, human remnants such as amputated body parts are disposed of by keeping them in the morgue and later placing them in specialized bags until they are buried with the knowledge and control of municipalities, he pointed out.

Experts say biomedical waste differs from other types of hazardous waste, such as industrial waste, as it comes from biological sources or is used in the diagnosis, prevention or treatment of diseases. Common producers of biomedical waste include hospitals, health clinics, nursing homes, medical research laboratories, offices of physicians, dentists, veterinarians, home health care facilities and funeral homes.