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Bio Medical Waste

It may be in the form of solid or liquid. Basically, biomedical waste is generated from biological or medical activities like prevention, diagnosis etc. The common producers of bio medical waste include hospitals, emergency medical services, morgues, medical research laboratory, veterinarians etc waste with these characteristics is called clinical or medical waste.

There is some infectious biomedical waste which include used bandages, discarded gloves, contaminated used needles, discarded blood, scalpels, amputation, lancets etc and many other devices which is responsible for penetrating skin.

Disposal of such kind of waste is of environmental concern as many of these biomedical wastes are classified as infectious or biohazardous which leads to the spread of infectious disease.
As the number of persons infected with COVID-19 is continuously rising throughout the world and in such circumstances, bio waste management which includes of hazardous management, medical etc waste is of extreme importance.

During the pandemic, many types of medical and hazardous waste are generated form hospitals as well as house hold waste which includes infected gloves, masks, samples, syringes, urine bags, body fluid, empty ampules etc. when medical and household waste get mixed they create secondary impact upon the health of the people at large and on the environment as well. Improper management of this waste could cause unforeseen effects on human health and the environment and therefore proper handling and disposal of such waste with safety is very essential.

Biomedical waste

The Bio Medical Waste Management Rules 2016 define under section 3(6)"bio-medical waste" means any waste, which is generated during the diagnosis, treatment or immunisation of human beings or animals or research activities pertaining thereto or in the production or testing of biological or in health camps, including the categories mentioned in Schedule I appended to these rules.[i] In India, Biomedical waste is regulated by the Biomedical Waste Management Rules 2016[ii]

A hospital waste is a kind of waste that contains infectious materials. It may also include a waste which is associated with the generation of biomedical waste that appears to be of medical or laboratory origin, or of research laboratory waste which contains biomolecules which is mainly restricted from environmental release. Even discarded sharps are also considered as biomedical waste it does not matter whether they are contaminated or not as there is a possibility of being contaminated with blood and there is propensity to cause injury when it is not properly contained of disposed. It is a type of biowaste.

It may be in the form of solid or liquid. Basically, biomedical waste is generated from biological or medical activities like prevention, diagnosis etc. The common producers of bio medical waste include hospitals, emergency medical services, morgues, medical research laboratory, veterinarians etc waste with these characteristics is called clinical or medical waste. There is some infectious biomedical waste which include used bandages, discarded gloves, contaminated used needles, discarded blood, scalpels, amputation, lancets etc and many other devices which is responsible for penetrating skin.

Disposal of such kind of waste is of environmental concern as many of these biomedical wastes are classified as infectious or biohazardous which leads to the spread of infectious disease.
Biomedical waste means waste which may be in solid or liquid form. It also includes containers and any intermediate products which is generated during the diagnosis, treatment of human beings or animals it also includes research activities pertaining in the production or testing in the health camps.

It basically, causes hazard because of two principle reasons:

  • The first one in infectivity
  • Toxicity

Bio medical waste consist of:

  • Waste generated from human anatomical (tissues, organs etc);
  • Waste generated from animal waste during research from the veterinary hospitals;
  • Waste of discarded medicines;
  • Waste of cytotoxic drugs;
  • Liquid waste from infected areas, incineration ash or any other chemical wastes;
  • Waste materials contaminated with blood, tubes etc or soiled waste i.e., dressing, bandages etc.

Situation of Bio medical waste during COVID- 19

As the number of persons infected with COVID-19 is continuously rising throughout the world and in such circumstances, bio waste management which includes of hazardous management, medical etc waste is of extreme importance.

During the pandemic, many types of medical and hazardous waste are generated form hospitals as well as house hold waste which includes infected gloves, masks, samples, syringes, urine bags, body fluid, empty ampules etc. when medical and household waste get mixed they create secondary impact upon the health of the people at large and on the environment as well. Improper management of this waste could cause unforeseen effects on human health and the environment and therefore proper handling and disposal of such waste with safety is very essential.

Types of bio medical waste

The World Health Organisation has issued its guidelines in which it classified different types of medical waste, which includes:
  • Infectious waste- it includes the waste which includes infectious or contaminated waste generated from hospitals;
  • Sharps- it includes waste like needles, scalpels, razors, broken glass etc;
  • Pathological waste- it includes tissues, blood, body parts, blood, fluid of human or animal;
  • Pharmaceutical waste- it includes unused or expired drug or medicines like creams, pills etc;
  • Genotoxic waste-it consists of cytotoxic drugs and other waste which is toxic in nature;
  • Radioactive waste- any waste which contains potentially radioactive materials;
  • Chemical waste- waste which is usually in liquid form that comes from machines, batteries and disinfectants;
  • General waste- it contains all other non-hazardous waste.

Treatment of bio medical waste

There are several treatments of biomedical waste which maximising safety during handling and disposal of waste and on the other hand minimizes the environmental hazards. Biomedical treatment is a process by which the deleterious effects of the waste can be eradicated.

The primary method of handling bio medical treatment;
  • Incineration
  • Autoclaving
  • Chemical treatment
  • Irradiation

Incineration

It is a process of burning the medical waste in a dedicated incinerator. It is an old technology and it was widely used in the past for disposing all types of waste. Every individual building had their own incinerators for disposing off their waste. But unfortunately, it got a very bad reputation as they created bottom ashes, clinker etc., which is responsible for air pollution. But in present scenario it is much cleaner and it is responsible for decreasing the mass of waste by 90-95 %.

Autoclaving

It is a sterilization method which uses high-pressure steam. It is the best and most common alternative of incineration. This treatment is basically applied to inactivate the infectious materials and used to sterilize the equipment which is used in medical services. It is affordable and there is no bad impact on human health.

Chemical treatment

This treatment is used to decontaminate the waste which is in the form of liquid by using chlorine compoundswhich used to kill the microorganism and infectious agents present in the medical waste. It also helps in oxidising the hazardous chemical waste. Chemicals like chlorine, calcium oxide etc can be used according to the nature of the waste.

Irradiation

It disinfects waste be emitting gamma rays on the bacteria and expose of the rays is fatal on bacteria. It uses rays like gamma, ultraviolet rays, x-rays etc in treatment of these waste. It is quite expensive method in treatment of bio medical waste compared to any other methods and precautions must be taken by the hospital workers as it emits harmful radiation. It uses the same radiation which is used in the treatment of cancer. In cancer treatment, the radiation is intended to kill the malignant cells whereas the radiation that comes from irradiation intended to kill the pathogens and infectious agents.[iii]

Segregation of bio medical waste

Under Section 8 of Bio Medical Waste Rules (2016) Segregation is mentioned. It plays a very crucial role for improving the bio medical waste management. The most essential part is to reduce the volume of infectious waste which is responsible for spreading diseases. If any quick step is not taken against this than the quantum of waste will go beyond the control of management.

The waste is segregated according to different colour which is mentioned under the Schedule 1 of the Bio Medical Waste Management Rules (2016).

The different colour coding system of containers are given below:

  • Yellow bag- it is yellow coloured non chlorinated plastic bags under which the waste of human anatomical, animal anatomical, soiled water, expired or discarded medicines, chemical waste, chemical liquid waste, microbiology, biotechnology and other chemical laboratory etc types of waste should be disposed under these bags.

  • Red bag- it is red coloured non chlorinated containers or plastic bags which recycled the contaminated waste like bottles, urine bags, catheters, intravenous tubes, gloves etc.

  • White bag- it is translucent puncture proof, leak proof, tamper proof container under which sharp waste including metals like needles, scalpels, syringes or any other contaminated sharp material that may causes puncture and cuts. This basically includes both discarded and contaminated metal sharps.

  • Blue bag- it is cardboard boxes with blue colour marking on it. Under which waste like glassware i.e., broken or contaminated glass which includes medicine vials and ampoules. Contaminated cytotoxic waste does not come under it.[iv]

Storage of bio medical waste

Until the medical waste is collected for treatment and disposal the healthcare facilities must provide a storage area for such medical waste. The storage area should be decided carefully that the general public generally unapproachable to such area.

There must exhibit symbols and sigs for general public so that they will avoid to go in such area. The waste should be dry and secured before the waste being transported there. The area should be protected from wind, insects, animals, water. Such biomedical which is hazardous for living being should not be stored for more than 3 months.[v]

Necessity of bio medical waste management

There is a need for biomedical waste management to minimize the risk of infection inside as well as outside of the hospital. Improper management of these waste risks the life of people.
There is need for biomedical waste for the some of the following reasons mentioned below:
  • The injuries caused from sharps leads to infection to all categories of waste handler.
  • Risk from hazardous chemicals, drugs.
  • Risk of pollution caused due to waste generated directly into the air water or soil.
  • Risk while incineration treatment as it causes ash and smokes which is responsible for air pollution
  • Risk of infection from infectious materials like used gloves, mask etc.
There is quick need for the management of Biomedical Waste. As it not only risks the life of a patient but another living organism as well. So, it is necessary that hospitals, households etc who generates these kinds of waste should take strict action on managing it.

Advantages of bio medical waste management

Bio medical waste or hospital waste generates hazardous waste which is extremely of infectious nature. These products should be disposed carefully and properly otherwise it will cause infectious diseases which will be danger for both human as well as environment. These kinds of waste are not only generating from hospitals but also from laboratories, research centre etc.
There are number of advantages of properly managing Biomedical waste.

Some of them are as follows:
  • It leads to healthy atmosphere and microbe free environment.
  • It reduces the risk of infection to general public, hospital staffs, workers etc.
  • It is responsible for unpleasant smell that comes from in and around hospitals. A proper management reduces bad odours and unpleasant sights.
  • The risk of contamination of water and soil reduces by proper waste disposal.
  • It reduces the possibility of fleas and insect responsible for transmitting diseases in the area.
  • Countless of animals lose their life after eating the waste which consist of medical instrument like shard, needles, scalpels etc. Biomedical Waste is responsible for saving tons of life.

Bio medical waste management during COVID 19 (India)

During this pandemic India come up with its own guidelines by the Central Pollution Control Board, to ensure that all the bio medical waste that is generated during treatment, diagnosis, and the quarantine patient od COVID 19 should be disposed safely.

No doubt, India was one of the first countries to take an active step during this pandemic. The guidelines provided by CPCP gives series of steps for the waste generated in isolation wards with COVID-19 patients, the laboratories which collects samples of COVID suspected patients, home facilities, quarantine caps etc should be disposed safely. These guidelines also outline the duties of State Pollution Control Board, local bodies, bio medical waste treatment.

The key actions mandated includes:

  1. For maintaining segregation by using separate colour coded bins, bags, containers which is provided under the schedule 1 of Bio Medical Waste Management Rules 2016.
  2. Double layered bags should be used for collecting COVID 19 isolation waste so to avoid leaks.
  3. Maintaining separate record of waste which is generated from COVID 19 isolation ward.
  4. Storage of COVID19 waste such as containers, bags, trolleys should be disinfected by applying 1 % of sodium hypochlorite solution daily on the inner and outer surface.
  5. Information and reporting of ward, ICU for COVID 19 should be given to CBWTF located in the area.
  6. There is need of sanitation workers, so that COVID 19 waste can be collected and transferred timely to storage area.
  7. Urban Local Bodies will identify the general solid waste generated from quarantine centres which is handed over to the waste collector for disposal.
  8. Bio medical waste which is generated from the quarantine centres or camps should be separately collected in yellow coloured bags that will be provided by the ULBs.
  9. Immediately after receiving the receipt from the Common Biomedical Waste Treatment Facility COVID 19 waste should be disposed-off.
  10. The CBWTF may employ any of the methods mentioned under the Bio Medical Waste Management Rules 2016.[vi]

Conclusion

For the protection of environment and living being it is very necessary to minimise the waste generation. And it is necessary that all the people should take part in minimising these wastes they should participate in programs which is organized for minimizing waste.

It is necessary that our health warriors should trained the general public and create awareness about the issue caused by these wastes. They should also foster responsibility on the general public and educate them about the impact of disposing these wastes unsafely. There should be prevention of exposure and unsafe disposal of bio medical waste.
End-Notes:
  1. https://dhr.gov.in/sites/default/files/Bio-medical_Waste_Management_Rules_2016.pdf
  2. https://dhr.gov.in/sites/default/files/Bio-medical_Waste_Management_Rules_2016.pdf
  3. https://www.malsparo.com/treatment.htm
  4. https://dhr.gov.in/document/guidelines/bio-medical-waste-management-rules-2016
  5. https://crimsonpublishers.com/sbb/fulltext/SBB.000522.php
  6. https://www.india.gov.in/gsearch?s=Covid+guidelines&op=Search
Award Winning Article Is Written By: Tusharika Singh Gaharvar, Semester- 7th, B.A., Ll. B (H) - University- Amity Law School, Amity University, Lucknow
Email: [email protected], Ph no: 9517331455

Awarded certificate of Excellence
Authentication No: OT028473009979-10-1020

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