Definitions and Sources of Biomedical Special Waste

Efficient handling and management of medical waste is a major problem globally because of growing populations and increasing medical attention at various health facilities that are generating more and more waste in the environment.

More than half of the nations of the world, at the least, are experiencing environmental challenges associated with waste disposal. Unlike hazardous industrial waste which is normally encountered outside urban settlements, biomedical waste is relatively closer to residential zones due to the location of clinics, pharmacies, and hospitals in the heart of many cities.

It has been shown that this waste can be washed down and thus and its way into rivers, streams and underground water, which could lead to epidemics of water-borne diseases and influence the increase of multiple drug-resistant pathogens in the communal water supply.

Direct contact of contaminated waste with sharp edges such as needles and broken vials capable of damaging the skin and introducing infectious agents are some of the risks associated with improper disposal of waste from medical sources.

Waste workers and rag pickers who rummage through all kinds of waste material while trying to salvage items for sale are often the worst affected in the process.

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They may be exposed to poisonous materials and infectious objects and so are often in danger of serious infections and diseases such as hepatitis, plague, cholera, etc., which pose grave health risks.

Some of the major reasons for the ineffective management and control of biomedical waste in many countries are financial and technological constraints and lack of education and proper training of personnel on duty.

Many countries still facing biomedical waste challenges today are largely the developing ones due to their slow pace in technological advancement and civic development. Although developed countries are not often left out of this dire situation, the frequency of occurrence is far lower than in developing countries.

Definition of the Term Biomedical Waste

Several studies and reports on health-care-related waste have emerged on the issue of hospital waste and its management as a result, many conflicting opinions have come up regarding the acceptance of definitions for specific terms associated with this topic, for example, regulated medical waste, infectious waste, bio-hazardous waste, and biological waste.

Definitions and Sources of Biomedical Special Waste

Medical waste refers to materials generated as a result of patient diagnosis, treatment, or immunization of human beings or animals. Given the diversity of scientific opinions and interests of individuals, groups and agencies involved in the medical waste issue (e.g., physicians, health departments, hospitals, trade unions, state, and federal legislators), these differences are not surprising.

However, in this chapter, we will be considering medical waste as a subset of hospital waste and continue to use biomedical waste in place of these descriptive terms.

Sources of Biomedical Waste

There are different sources of waste generated from the biomedical point of view. It is important to stress that the hospital is not the only source of biomedical waste; there are other health-care facilities of significant concern.

As said earlier, hospital waste refers to biological and non-biological waste that is disposed of and is no longer intended for further use in the hospital. Although hospitals are considered the primary generators of waste by volume, there are also several non-hospital facilities that generate waste.

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There are numerous private dentists and private physicians offices, medical clinics, veterinarian centers, and medical laboratories that generate hazardous and infectious medical waste across the globe.

Some of these sites generate medical waste faster than certain hospitals because of the frequency of which people patronize them and because most of them do not possess an efficient system for waste management. Hence they contribute largely to the improper disposal of waste.

There are currently no reliable data on the quantity of waste generated by these nonhospital centers but their role in waste generation cannot be underestimated.

In summary, biomedical waste refers to all waste, biological or non-biological, that is discarded and not intended for further use. Medical waste refers to materials generated as a result of patient diagnosis, treatment, or immunization of human beings or animals.

Given the diversity of scientific opinions and interests of individuals, groups and agencies involved in the medical waste issue (e.g., physicians, health departments, hospitals, trade unions, state, and federal legislators), these differences are not surprising.

However, in this chapter, we will be considering medical waste as a subset of hospital waste and continue to use biomedical waste in place of these descriptive terms.

Several studies and reports on health-care-related waste have emerged on the issue of hospital waste and its management; as a result, many conflicting opinions have come up regarding the acceptance of definitions for specific terms associated with this topic, for example, regulated medical waste, infectious waste, bio-hazardous waste, and biological waste. Medical waste refers to materials generated as a result of patient diagnosis, treatment, or immunization of human beings or animals.

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Benadine Nonye

An Agric. Consultant & a Writer. - National Diploma in Agricultural Technology - Bachelor's Degree in Agricultural Science - Master's Degree in Science Education... Visit My Websites On: TheAgripedia.com - For Scientific Research Based Agricultural Knowledge and Innovations. Agric4profits.com - For Practical Agricultural Knowledge and Natural Health Benefits. WealthinWastes.com - For Proper Waste Management and Recycling Practices. Join Me On: Twitter: @benadinenonye - Instagram: benadinenonye - LinkedIn: benadinenonye - YouTube: Agric4ProfitsTV - Pinterest: BenadineNonye4u - Facebook: BenadineNonye

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