Biomedical Waste Management 💉: There are different types of waste, some of which could compromise one’s health. Today, we are going to talk about this one type of waste: biomedical waste. The cleaning and disposal of this type of waste are not for the faint of heart. Every day, you come in contact with bodily fluids (eg., blood, urine, saliva, etc.) – either contaminated or not – and have the task of disposing of them properly. But how dangerous is infectious, biomedical waste and how is proper management done? Let me discuss it with you.


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A Bit About Waster

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Definition Of Biomedical Waste

Basically, biomedical waste means any type of human and/or animal waste, containing infectious – or potentially infectious – materials. Additionally, it is not only limited to the waste itself, but also the materials used in containing this waste; this includes materials like swabs, bandages, discarded surgical masks, syringes and needles, female sanitary waste, blood vials, soiled nappies, and many more.

Obviously, you can find many of these types of waste in health businesses like hospitals, laboratories, or clinics. According to the World Health Organization, approximately 15 per cent of the waste produced by health-care facilities is either infectious, radioactive, or toxic waste. Furthermore, rich countries produce about 0.5 kg of hazardous waste while low-income ones produce about 0.2 kg.

Why is biomedical waste management important? I will discuss it in the next section.


How Important Is Biomedical Waste Management?

Biomedical waste management is very important. It does not take one to become a scientist or doctor to know why we should properly dispose of such waste. But even so, let me discuss why proper treatment and disposal should be applied. First of all, improper biomedical waste management causes negative health effects on humans. According to WHO, negative results stemming from health care waste and by-products include the following:

  • sharps-inflicted injuries;
  • toxic exposure to pharmaceutical products, in particular, antibiotics and cytotoxic drugs released into the surrounding environment, and to substances such as mercury or dioxins, during the handling or incineration of health care wastes;
  • chemical burns arising in the context of disinfection, sterilization or waste treatment activities;
  • air pollution arising as a result of the release of particulate matter during medical waste incineration;
  • thermal injuries occurring in conjunction with open burning and the operation of medical waste incinerators; and
  • radiation burns.

Additionally, this waste contains harmful organisms that can infect other patients, staff, and the public if left unchecked and uncontrolled.


Highly Infectious Waste

If that did not scare you enough, there exists a far worse type of waste labelled as highly infectious waste. Basically, these are waste materials that carry infectious diseases in dangerous amounts.

According to the Hub, highly infectious biomedical waste is usually only present in controlled environments; these are where microorganisms are purposely multiplied. The most common of these places are in laboratories. But you can also find them in the bodily fluids of people carrying highly infectious diseases located in health-care facilities.

This is another important factor in why biomedical waste management is important. We want to avoid throwing these types of waste at inappropriate places – i.e., places with lots of people.


What Improper Disposal Does

An excerpt from the Hub states that:

Improper disposal could even result in the release of a drug-resistant disease into the environment, which can spread to people unaware of effective infection control and become difficult to contain. Needles and syringes not disposed of properly can cause a sharps-inflicted injury and transfer an infection. The WHO states that someone who experiences one needle stick injury from a needle used on an infected patient has a 30%, 1.8%, and 0.3% risk of contracting HBV, HCB, and HIV respectively. The environment could also suffer due to improper disposal – it could cause poisoning and pollution through wastewater or toxic elements or compounds released during incineration of infectious waste.

For us to avoid all of these, obviously, we have to implement proper biomedical waste management.


Proper Biomedical Waste Management

Before we go further into the topic, have you heard of Waster’s charitable partnership with Greenfleet? We decided to help in reducing carbon emissions by teaming up with them!

The first thing you should do to ensure proper biomedical waste management is to follow the protocol in disposing of these materials in your place. The general things to remember:

  • Wear protective equipment
  • Sterilise the contaminated portion of the facility
  • Practise proper disposal

Always remember to wear gloves when you do biomedical – especially infectious – waste management practices. You should remove and dispose of them hygienically once you are done with them. Additionally, you should cover your whole body as much as possible. Avoid exposing your wounds if you have one. Properly dress them with bandages.

You should also isolate the area where the biomedical, infectious waste was originally located. Use effective cleaning substances like bleach, hot water, and detergent. Likewise, you should also dispose of them properly after use in a hygienic and safe way. And don’t forget to sanitise your hands afterwards!


biohazard (biomedical) infectious waste symbol


Proper biomedical waste disposal also includes:

  • Minimising contact with biomedical waste as much as possible
  • Discarding them into a suitable bag, container, etc.
  • Using bags with the appropriate colour and symbol – e.g., biohazard infectious waste symbol
  • Transferring the biomedical waste safely
  • Making sure not to overfill the suitable waste bag/container
  • Adhering to local clinical waste disposal policy


Biomedical Waste Management: Conclusion

Now that I have discussed everything you should know about biomedical waste management, I hope that you learned a lot on this. Always remember the following:

  • Never leave biomedical waste untreated
  • Always wear gloves or any other type of protection when treating and disposing of it
  • Sanitise your hands after the treatment and disposal (sanitise after even when wearing gloves)

You can also watch this video for more information:

Waster: Things You Need To Know

If you’re looking for recycling bins, check our waste recycling shop and find the best deals in terms of pricing and services. Check our medical waste disposal for more information.

Also, please call 1300 WASTER (1300 927 837), or email us at [email protected] if you have any further questions.