Bio-medical waste generated during the diagnosis, treatment or immunization of human beings or animals or in research activities pertaining thereto or in the production or testing of biological. It may include wastes like sharps, solid waste, disposables, anatomical waste, discarded medicines, chemical waste etc. This waste is potentially hazardous, the main hazard being infection and may cause a serious threat to human health if its management is indiscriminate and unscientific.
The improper management of bio-medical waste causes serious environmental problems in terms of air, water and land pollution. The nature of pollutants are classified in to biological, chemical and radioactive
Pathogens present in the waste can enter and remain in the air in an institution, or any health care unit for a long period in the form of spores or as pathogens itself. This can result in hospital acquired infection (nosocomial infection) or occupational health hazard. The patients and their attendants also have a chance of contracting infections caused due to pathogens and spores, which are air borne. Poor ventilation, carpets, furnitures, equipments used in the consulting rooms as well as operation theater, faulty air conditioning may lead to air pollution. When waste without pretreatment transported outside the institution and it is dumped openly, pathogen can enter the atmosphere, the pathogens can find their way to drinking water, foodstuff, soil etc and or remain in the surrounding air and causes diseases in animals and human beings. Proper waste management practices can reduce this pollution to a large extent.
Bio-medical waste can cause water pollution. If the waste is dumped in low-lying areas or in the lakes and water bodies, can cause severe water pollution. Any liquid waste when it spills and gets entry in water, naturally bacterial flora will get favourable media and grows like mushrooms. Therefore, in that case it can cause water pollution and it affects parting case of population. In case of heavy metals which are present in Bio-medical waste. Which can cause water polluion, poor land filling technology may cause in the form of lechates. Excess nutrient leachates such as nitrates and phosphates from landfills can cause a phenomenon called eutrophication (where surface of water body develop algal blooms) Water pollution can alter parameters such as pH, BOD, DO, COD etc. there are instances where dioxins are reported from water bodies near incinerator plants, dixin enter water body from the air.
The final disposal of all bio-medical waste is to land. Even liquid effluent after treatment is spread on land hence pollution caused to land is inevitable. However, it can be minimized to large extent through proper treatment. soil pollution from bio-medical waste is caused by infectious waste, Discarded medicines, chemical used in treatment and cadmium, lead mercury etc. which are present in the waste will get absorbed by plant and landfills are also pollutants. excessive amount of trace nutrient elements and other elements including heavy metals in soil are harmful to crops and also harmful to animals and human beings.
According to the WHO, the global life expectancy is increasing year after year. However deaths due to infectious disease are increasing. A study conducted by the WHO in he year 1996, reveals that more than 50,000 people die every day from infectious diseases. One of the causes for the increase in infection diseases is improper bio-medical waste management, because any type of bacterial, viruses or other protozoan require some media to spread in community. So in that case water, land (soil) air are the vector for that. tuberculosis, pnenumonia, diarrhoeal diseases, teanus, gas gangrene, whooping cough etc are the common disease spread due to improper waste management. human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis viruses are spread through bio-medical waste. The general public health can also adversely affected by bio-medical waste. Improper practices such as dumping of bio-medical waste in municipal dustbins, open spaces, water bodies etc. leads to he spread of diseases. Emissions from incinerators and open burning also leads to exposure to harmful gases which cause cancer and respiratory disease. Bio-medical waste can cause health hazard to animals and birds. Plastic waste can choke animals which scavenge on openly dumped waste. Injuries from sharps are common features affecting animals.
Harmful chemicals such a dioxin and furans and heavy metals in the soil can affect the reproductive health of animals so one study also reveals that endanger species is due to openly dumped waste.