‘The mixing of hospital wastes with municipal wastes will lead to environmental degradation'

Improper segregation and incomplete disposing of medical wastes by some hospitals in the city, which runs contrary to the scientific medical waste management rules laid down by the Centre, is posing a threat to the public health. As per the norms issued by the Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board (APPCB) in 1998, all the hospitals are supposed to burn medical wastes in a scientific manner.

Since it is a costly affair for many hospitals to take up the task independently, the APPCB had identified a city-based proprietary firm Safenviron, which has its medical waste management plant at Chinakakani on the city outskirts, as the authorised agency to collect and dispose of all kinds of hospital wastes.

Representatives of the firm have been collecting medical wastes from all the hospitals that entered into an agreement with them on payment of a prescribed fee. The medical wastes collected every day are transported and burnt in the plant at high temperature so as to cause no pollution. On an average, the firm collects about 700 kg of waste a day from 280 hospitals in the city that signed the agreement.

But in a recent survey, the representatives of the firm have identified that many hospitals are not handing over all the wastes. “We are receiving only 80 per cent of wastes from the member hospitals every day. The remaining wastes, to our knowledge, are being disposed of in the municipal litter bins,” said V. Venkateswara Rao, proprietor of Safenviron. “In some cases it is due to negligence, whereas in the case of others it is due to lack of awareness among the staff about the importance of proper disposal of wastes.” At least 300 kg of wastes a day are estimated to be disposed of along with municipal wastes, posing a grave threat to public health.

This practice poses a challenge also in terms of a possible reuse of syringes. The mixing of hospital wastes with municipal wastes will lead to environmental degradation and pose health related challenges to the sanitation workers, the officials concerned say.

When contacted, Environmental Engineer of the APPCB S. Venkateswarlu said they are taking necessary steps to ensure that the entire medical wastes were treated in a scientific manner. “The Vijayawada Municipal Corporation too is issuing notices to the hospitals that are throwing medical wastes into the litter bins meant for municipal solid wastes,” he pointed out.

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